Who: Charity developer, 34, on a £28,500 salary (plus £9,000 back pay)
What: How the discovery of her male colleague’s salary inspired one woman to fight for equal pay for all
I support community youth services across large areas of the country. This means making sure that volunteers deliver the best quality of care, and that young people have opportunities to progress in life. They need to feel heard, listened to and appreciated – they deserve to.
To do my job, you have to be resourceful, personable and willing to put in face-to-face time. Simply emailing will not do. On top of these qualities, I had a degree in youth services, and more than 15 years’ experience designing and managing youth services.
I was inducted as a charity developer alongside four other people – three women with very similar experience to me, and a man who had previously worked in publishing. We were a little confused as to how he got the job. He was publicly schooled, had never worked with young people, and his degree was in business.
I knew something wasn’t right when he started winning awards for basic work. Management went out of their way to highlight how excellent his output was to the rest of the team. Essentially, though, he’d just created a spreadsheet, and the bar seemed oddly low for such high praise.
It really grated when he was given a higher performance rating than me. I’d outperformed in all my areas, so I challenged it, which didn’t go down well – I was made to feel like a nuisance.
This went on for some time and started to affect me. I remember calling in sick one morning because I just couldn’t get out of bed. I felt nothing I’d done in my career mattered.
In a bid to do better, I’enrolled on a mentoring scheme. I told my mentor, a senior manager, about my suspicion that this guy was being paid more than us. “Call him up and ask him,” he told me. So I did.
I was nervous about how my colleague would react, but he was as mortified as I was when we discovered he’d been earning around £5,000 more the whole time.
I spent the next morning speaking to my union and putting a case together before going to HR. It turned out he’d put in a complaint himself about the pay inequality before I’d even called, which I was incredibly grateful for.
It took about two and a half weeks to get a response back. They denied the disparity was gender related, but said it was true and upheld my complaint. My pay was levelled up and I also received two years’ backpay, so I got an extra £9,000 on top.
I contacted the other women in my team and told them what had happened. It turned out they too had been significantly undercut, so they also had their pay levelled up. I felt relieved and proud.
It’s so difficult for women to have those conversations about money, but now I feel a lot more confident and wouldn’t hesitate to do it. I’ve since gone on to a senior manager role and I would never allow people to be brought in on different salaries.
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