British MP Stella Creasy has launched a campaign giving women advice on how to deal with the gender pay gap. It comes just days before a deadline for UK firms to report on pay differences.
The cross-party initiative launched its website and social media campaign on Monday under the hashtag #PayMeToo. It is designed to encourage women in the UK to find out if they are being paid as much as their male counterparts and report any inappropriate pay differences.
#PayMeToo is backed by eight lawmakers from Britain's main parties: Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party (SNP), and Wales' Plaid Cymru. The name borrows from the hashtag #MeToo launched last year in the film industry, which triggered a worldwide discussion on sexual harassment.
On her Twitter account, Creasy encourages women to "make sure everyone knows their rights and what to do next when it comes to tackling the gender pay gap in Britain."
"If we are serious about tackling the gender pay gap then we have to do more than publish data — we have to show we're watching what happens next," Creasy told UK daily The Guardian.
The website gives advice on how to broach the issue of pay differences with your employer and how to address the pay gap at work. Users can also fill in an anonymous survey, which the initiative says will "inform our work tackling the gender pay gap and fighting for equality in Britain."
Deadline to report pay gaps
The launch comes just days before an April 4 deadline the government has set for companies employing 250 people and more to disclose the differences in male and female pay. Failure to report will result in legal action, the government has said.
Results already published from the public sector last Friday show that nine out of 10 organizations pay women less than men.
All results can be searched for on the government's gender pay gap website.
Like in many other countries, pay equality is still a long way off in the UK; British men earn 18.4 percent more per hour on average than women, according to official data.
The biggest gap is in financial services — a key industry in Britain. Women earn 35.6 percent less on average than men working in the sector. UK banking giant HSBC, for example, reported a 59-percent pay gap, US rival Goldman Sachs' UK arm pays women 55.5 percent less.
According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the UK has a wider gender pay gap than both the EU and OECD on average.