Locating a successful policy from Theresa May’s Government is bit like trying to finding Wally in one of those excruciating children’s books my son was once fond of.
But amid the destructiveness, short termism, and dross it has served up, there has been the odd bright spot. One of those is its introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting. And it looks as if this might now be extended to include black and minority ethnic pay gap reporting.
A lot of companies complained bitterly about gender pay reporting prior to it being brought in. They then served up a veritable feast of excuses for why the average female employee earns substantially less than the average male at most of them.
But some of the more progressive minded ones also started to think about what they might do to improve their performance, and how they might find ways to get more women into better paying jobs. So did some of those who were, frankly, just embarrassed at having been made to look bad.
There should be more of that if the measure is applied to the black and minority ethnic workforce at the end of a Government consultation.
A couple of years ago I revealed the details in the Independent of some shocking research by the TUC that gave lie to the notion that if you get yourself an education and work hard you can get on in Britain.
It showed that black graduates earned an average 23 per cent less than their white counterparts, equivalent to £4.30 an hour. For those with A’levels the gap was 14.3 per cent. At GCSE level it stood at 11.4 per cent.
When all minority groups were considered, the gap at graduate level was a still high 10.3 per cent, but 17 per cent at A’level.
At the time, the former Prime Minister David Cameron said that the under-representation of black people in universities, businesses and the military “should shame our country and jolt us to action”.
Indeed so. It’s taken a while, but perhaps this is a sign of that action.
Just the launch of the consultation should get employers to thinking. They won’t relish the prospect of being embarrassed again, and I imagine they’d like to be able to show they’re working hard to address the issue if and when they’re forced to report some unfortunate numbers.
So far so good. But while this very welcome, I do have one criticism.
Where is disability in all this? Why does it so rarely feature in the equality conversation. Admittedly I have an interest, being disabled. But that doesn’t change the validity of the point.
The Cameron Government at one point had a firm target of halving the disability employment gap by 2020. That then became an aspiration. Now it is rarely mentioned. Earlier this year official figures put it at about 30 per cent, and it has hardly changed in ten years.
Sue Bott from Disability Rights UK says that disabled people “continue to lag behind in so many areas of life, from educational opportunities to equal pay”. “A requirement for organisations to report on their disability pay gap would be a step towards combatting social injustice.”
Indeed. But as she agrees, we first have to get a place where disabled people can just earn a salary. That can be a desperate struggle regardless of whether they are male or female, black or white.
When it comes to policymaking for disabled people, the May Government sadly reverts to its dismal mean.