Female voters want the legal “right to know” what their male colleagues are paid, a survey by the Fawcett Society has found.
The charity found that over seven in ten (71 per cent) of female voters in Red Wall Constituencies reported that they would be more likely to vote for a party that introduced a legally enforceable policy allowing women to find out the pay of men in their workplace, enabling them to challenge pay discrepancies.
The charity commissioned Survation to poll female voters in Red Wall constituencies on which policies aimed at tackling the gender pay gap would influence their votes most at the next general election, finding that over six in ten – 64 per cent – said they would also be more willing to vote for a party that introduced mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting.
Most women want salary history questions scrapped from interviews
Most women also wanted to see questions about salary history during recruitment processes scrapped, with 62 per cent stating they would support a party looking to legislate against this. The Fawcett Society said that questions about salary history can mean women and ethnic minorities “carry” low pay from job to job as a result.
Over a third of those surveyed – 36 per cent – also said they wanted to work more paid hours than they currently did but were being prevented from doing so by a lack of flexible work (33 per cent), caring responsibilities (23 per cent) and the issue of affordable childcare (23 per cent).
The party polled over 1,000 men and women from seats that swung from Labour to Conservative in 2019 and found that tackling pay discrimination was the top priority for female Red Wall voters when it came to who to select at the ballot box.
Jemima Olchawski, the women’s charity’s chief executive, said that it “comes across very clearly” that women were being impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.
“Addressing gender inequality has to be central to our economy,” she said. “Not doing that is missing a trick politically, as it will miss out these key voters in the Red Wall.”
She added that female Red Wall voters would take political parties’ stances on affordable childcare into consideration when they voted.
“It is often a struggle for people to get childcare. The cost is a huge issue as well – we have some of the most expensive childcare for individuals in the world. At the moment we’re not seeing the scale of response to that that would show a recognition of the importance of this.”
She said the fact affordable childcare was not included in the Autumn statement felt like a “missed opportunity”, adding: “It’s really clear that it’s [childcare] too expensive for too many countries and it’s pushing women out of the labour market.”
The polling found that 75 per cent said parties’ stances on affordable childcare would be important to them when considering who to vote for.