Gender Pay Scandal in Silicone Valley

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Gender Pay Scandal in Silicone Valley

Gender Pay Scandal in Silicone Valley

A number of large employers are coming under scrutiny over gender diversity.

Last week Mr Damore was dismissed from Google after he published an internal memo arguing that the biological differences between the sexes accounted for the scarcity of women in technical jobs within silicone valley. Whilst Mr Damore was dismissed for his conduct, he received a number of personal messages from his fellow colleagues expressing their gratitude for bringing up important issues that they feel they could not express due to a shaming culture and the fear of being dismissed.

This highlights how the line between freedom of expression and breaching a code of conduct has been blurred. The personal messages received by Mr Damore clearly illustrate that some employees do not know where they stand when it comes to expressing their opinions. At what point does a controversial opinion incite hostility within the workplace?

Having a clear and tailored code of conduct within the staff handbook enables both employers and employees to be clear as to what is acceptable behaviour in the workplace. Mr Damore was dismissed for breaching Google’s code of conduct. However, with the introduction of the Gender Pay Gap Regulations in April 2017; requiring UK businesses with over 250 employees to report on their gender pay gap, the disparity in male and female pay will become public knowledge. 

Mr Damore’s memo has had a number of negative implications for Google. As well as attracting global media attention, the memo has resulted in a group of more than 60 female Google employees issuing a group action against Google for pay disparities and sex discrimination within the workplace. Further, the story comes following the recent headlines concerning the differences in pay between male and female presenters at the BBC, which has led to an increase in media attention on equal pay and its importance in the work place.

It is evident that issues as to gender pay reporting are making a number of headlines and this will no doubt continue as more companies publish their pay gap in the coming months. As a result it is highly likely that we will see an increase in the number of equal pay claims issued especially as employees no longer have to pay a tribunal fee when issuing proceedings against their employer.

If you have any questions in relation to the issues raised in this article, contact Millie Kempley or a member of the Employment team on 0345 070 6000.