5 Things Jackie Fast learnt about pay gaps at her first Tortoise ThinkIn



Tortoise’s tagline is ‘slow news’ the response to fast journalism – and I like what they are doing. A lot. As part of this revolutionary shift they are forging in journalism are Tortoise ThinkIns – live, unscripted conversations where they harness the diverse experience and expertise of Tortoise members. Effectively integrating the reader into the conversation in an impactful way. As part of my own personal exploration of pay gaps and diversity I recently was privy to my first ThinkIn on ‘Why Are Pay Gaps So Intractable?’ and here is what I discovered:


1. Are we even focussing on the right pay gap? The media focuses a lot of gender pay gaps, but there are more pressing pay gaps to include in the conversation with race, disability, and socio-economic background. These ‘not to so popular’ pay gap conversations have much less measurement, much less media attention, and are barely monitored. However, almost everyone in the room felt they were more harmful than gender.


2. The gender pay gap can simply be explained by having children.

This graph says it all.

Impact of children on earnings


3. At present there is no mandatory pay gap reporting.

Without the data it is hard to identify where the pay penalties truly are. Surprisingly amongst the group and the panel at the ThinkIn there was a debate and disagreement between brands and researchers on whether race and socio-economic background could be measured or reported on. I felt that some of the brands who were championing closing the gap (whatever gap that might be) didn’t want to share data, which alludes to a potentially larger issue. If there is no data set with a relative sample size, it continues to just be noise without action.


4. Business driven pay gap goals and schemes can be launched, but without a culture change they aren’t necessarily taken up.

Manroop Khela, Chief Transformation Officer from Santander UK shared the lack of take up of their Shared Parental Leave scheme which they launched last year but 12 months on no one had taken it up. They had to work internally to get the next soon-to-be-father to actually utilise this benefit in the hopes that once more people see others take up these schemes they will be more likely to do so. It highlights the importance of ensuring there is a strategic roll-out behind the plan as a communications strategy can only go so far in shifting mindset regardless of opportunity.


5.It’s nice to debate face-to-face.

Most of the information I consume is passive – I receive it, then I read it. But as an opinionated person, I found the concept and the actual experience of the Tortoise Thinkins completely refreshing. A new take on how I learn about the world around me, and one where I’m engaged and learning from multiple viewpoints. I hope to see you at the next one!


Jackie Fast was owner of Slingshot Sponsorship and a Board Director of European Sponsorship Association. She is now an entrepreneur, author and speaker.

Listen to Jackie's appearance on the Unofficial Partner podcast here.

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