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UK architects must do more to close gender pay gap says RIBA president | Construction Buzz #212

11 Apr 2019


The Royal Institute of British Architects has issued new guidelines on discrimination as new data shows the gender pay gap remains above 15 per cent at UK architecture firms.

Figures for 2018 show that the gap between what men and women earn in architecture fell three percent to 15.4 per cent, which is almost double the UK average of 8.6 per cent.

Some high-profile practices, including Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), saw their pay gaps increase.

"There is no place for discrimination in our profession," said RIBA president Ben Derbyshire in response to the figures. "Yet, almost 50 years after equal pay legislation came into force in the UK, significant instances of inequality remain."

Closing pay gap "top priority" for RIBA

In response to the latest figures, the Royal Institute of British Architects has introduced official gender pay gap guidance. "Change is long overdue and all of us – employers, employees and the RIBA – have a vital role to play," said Derbyshire.

"Closing the gender pay gap is a top priority for the RIBA."

RIBA has called upon all chartered practices to sign its pledge, called Close the Gap – Improving Gender Equality in Practice, and has asked smaller practices to voluntarily disclose their gender pay gap data.

RIBA's own gender pay gap is currently 9.8 per cent, up from four per cent last year. RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance said this was due to hiring more women in junior roles.

Reporting gender pay gap now legal requirement

Under UK law, companies that employ over 250 people must annually report their gender pay gap data. This year, 14 architecture practices were required to report.

While eight practices made a minor improvement on 2017 – the first year that companies were legally required to report on their gender pay gap – four saw the gap widen and while one remained exactly the same.

The median gap – most commonly used to measure the disparity in pay – ranks employees from highest to lowest paid then measures the middle paid woman's hourly wage against the middle paid man's to calculate the difference in men and women's pay.

Men and women must be paid equally for equal work in the UK. However, as the figures show, men frequently end up occupying more of the higher-paid senior roles in architecture.

Leading architecture firms see pay gap rise

Zaha Hadid Architects was among the firms that saw its gender pay gap rise, with women earning 21 per cent less than men in 2018 compared to 19.6 per cent less the year before. This gave it it the fourth-worst gender pay gap of the practices surveyed.

"This gap exists because a higher proportion of our longest-serving team members are male," said ZHA chief executive Mouzhan Majidi in the company's gender pay gap report, which also noted that more women had been hired than men in 2018.

"Programmes we have introduced this year will enable more women at Zaha Hadid Architects to progress to senior roles," Majidi added.

AHMM had the largest rise in its gender pay gap, reporting that women were paid 16.7 per cent less than men in 2018, up from 12.3 per cent in 2017.

"It remains evident therefore that there are significantly more men in senior higher paid roles and this manifests itself in our gender pay gap," said Peter Morris, co-founder and managing director of AHMM in its report. The practice has introduced a gender pay gap working group and assigned a senior member to the role of gender equality champion.

Hawkins\Brown, which reported the lowest median gap of just 2.6 per cent last year, has seen its gender pay gap rise to six per cent.

"Our gender pay gap is a function of a higher percentage of staff in our highest pay quartile being male," said Hawkins\Brown partner Hazel York.

"In 2018 we enlisted the support of an external expert to help us identify any aspects of our workplace culture that might be hindering equality and diversity, focusing primarily but not exclusively on gender," she added.

Measures that Hawkins\Brown has put in place include increased transparency in salary reviews and more flexible working hours for parents.

Some firms gain ground on closing gap

TP Bennett made the biggest improvement on its gender pay gap, reducing it from 12.8 per cent to just 4.2 per cent, the lowest of any architecture firm.

"We have launched a number of initiatives to help narrow the gap, including programmes to develop junior staff," said Doug Smith, principal director at TP Bennett.

"To try to increase the number of woman in senior management, we introduced a mentorship programme and have a number of networking events planned for the women in our business."

Foster + Partners made a slight improvement, reducing its gender pay gap from 10.5 per cent to 9.8 per cent.

Allies and Morrison, Sheppard Robson, PRP Architects, BDP, Pick Everard and Stride Treglown all reduced their pay gaps by between 5.9 and 0.9 percent. Fourteen practices reported each year, with Grimshaw reporting for the first time and NPS Property Consultants not reporting this year.

Last year Dezeen ran an initiative called Move the Needle, challenging architecture and design juries on their gender balance and launching an online calculator to help practices calculate their own gender pay gap.

Inspired by the UK's new law on reporting the gender pay gap, Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang, closed the gender pay gap at her practice in one round of raises.

"This is the number one way you can show respect to women in your workforce," she told Dezeen in an interview about the move.

Source: Dezeen

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