As the Gender Equalities at Work team has researched the timeline of gender equalities legislation and policy over the last 50+ years, a point of particular note has been the divergence of policy and practice in the devolved administrations and how each has handled the issue of equal pay. With this in mind, the project commissioned Dr Alison Parken of Cardiff Business School to consider the context in Wales. Her two reports Equality and Devolution in Wales: A Distinct Approach? and Addressing Pay Inequalities in Wales: Past, Present and Future are introduced here.
Equality and Devolution in Wales: A Distinct Approach
Wales is often characterised as demonstrating a distinct approach to equality and human rights, before, through and since its constitutional devolution settlement (Chaney, 2007, 2011). Welsh politicians and advocates for gender equality were at the forefront of campaigning for devolution and the ambition to constitutionalise a commitment to ‘equality of opportunity for all’ (s.120 Government of Wales Act, 1998).
However, it can be argued that the developing distinctiveness of the mainstreaming equality approach, in which all policy formation is mobilised to promote equality (transversal), was undermined by equality objective setting (vertical) as required by the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and the Welsh Specific Equality Duties (WSED) (Parken, 2018). Recent reviews of equality policy critique an ‘implementation gap’ between equality policy ambition and outcomes (EHRC, 2018, Parken, 2018, Parken et al. 2019, Hoffman et al, 2021).
Dr Parken’s summary report Equality and Devolution in Wales: A Distinct Approach? outlines approaches to equality policymaking in Wales pre- and post-devolution, discusses where the country is now on the journey to the ‘Wales We Want’, and considers how to address the gap between ambition and outcomes.
Equality and Devolution in Wales: A Distinct Approach? provides a solid background with which to understand Wales’s approach to embedding equality in the workplace for anyone with an interest in gender and wider equalities in the Welsh context.
Addressing Pay Inequalities in Wales: Past, Present and Future
The summary report on equality and devolution also provides the broader context to accompany the larger (main) report on tackling gendered pay inequalities, commissioned by Gender Equalities at Work. Addressing Pay Inequalities in Wales: Past, Present and Future reviews efforts to address workplace inequalities in Wales with a focus on equal pay and the gender pay gap.
Addressing Pay Inequalities in Wales: Past, Present and Future goes on to make a series of recommendations – including clarifying current legislative drafting, ensuring that the ‘pay differences’ duty is not undermined by GB Gender Pay Reporting regulations, being mindful of the need for an intersectional analysis in employment and pay reporting, and including reports on progression from both low and high-grade roles.
Dr Parken commented, “Having been involved in some of this history, I was delighted to be asked to look back and forward by the ‘Gender Equalities at Work’ research project. As I look back, it is the collaborative approach in Wales that stands out as particularly distinctive. This collaboration has taken many forms, involving activists, local authorities, statutory agencies and trade unions.
“This report draws upon some early thinking which took place in a ‘Review and Renew’ on the ‘pay differences’ duty held at Cardiff Business School in November 2019, with a view to taking the next steps to working together to address the systemic causes of unequal pay and pay gaps, and addressing employment and pay disparities by ethnicity and disability, and including an intersectional analysis of these dimension of inequality with gender, where possible.”
Addressing Pay Inequalities in Wales: Past, Present and Future is an important tool for those involved in equality policy and practice in Wales.
Both reports will be presented in a discussion event featuring Dr Alison Parken and speakers from the Gender Equalities at Work project, chaired by Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice and Hannah Blythyn MS, Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, and culminating in a roundtable with General Secretary of the Wales TUC, Shavanah Taj, and Principal of EHRC Wales, Wayne Vincent.
Recordings and presentations
Prof Hazel Conley (Business School, University of the West of England) – Conceptualising Pay ‘Equality’ Across Time:
Prof Colm O’Cinneide (School of Laws, UCL) – Setting the Scene: Legislative Context and Implementation Level (UK and devolution)
Dr Ashlee Christoffersen (Edinburgh University) – The Scottish Comparison: Equalities Policy and Architectures in Scotland
Dr Alison Parken (Business School, Cardiff University) – Addressing Pay Inequalities in Wales – Past, Present and Future