This week I was delighted to receive a certificate recognising Quakers in Britain as the first major faith group to become a Pay Compare Mark employer. The mark is awarded to all employers that publish the gap between their highest and lowest paid staff on the www.paycompare.org.uk website.
While the award is new, it actually highlights a longstanding policy of our organisation; namely that no member of staff, either on our London or regional pay scale should receive a full-time salary more than four times that of any other. That policy, which results in a 1:4.7 ratio across the two pay scales, is one of the ways that Quakers are trying to put our faith into practice in the workplace.
A commitment to equality is a foundation of our Quaker faith and springs from our profound sense of the worth of every human being. Equality is the heart of good relationships. It is about our right to equal respect.
Something you’ll often hear Quakers say is that each and every person has “something of God” inside them. That means that while we all might have different experiences, talents, passions and outlooks on life, fundamentally – deep down – we are all of equal worth. Anything that makes it harder to recognise that fundamental equality by creating a sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’ must be resisted. High levels of economic inequality – whether in the workplace or in wider society – absolutely fall into that category.
Our 1:4.7 ratio tries to be faithful to this, whilst also recognising the realities of the modern workplace. Different roles within our organisation inevitably require different skills and come with different levels of responsibility. And, in some cases, (although probably far less than industry executives would make out) it can be challenging to recruit the right staff for some of our more specialist roles. At the same time, every single colleague makes a vital contribution to our organisation. Our success – including that of our fast growing trading company – doesn't just depend on the work of one or two individuals, but on the whole team working together. Our pay policy tries to reflect that truth.
I certainly can’t claim that our pay ratio – or anything else for that matter – makes us a perfect workplace. But it does make us a more open one. In my experience it also brings tangible benefits, helping us to attract staff, contributing to high levels of loyalty, relatively low turnover and absenteeism. This all makes us a healthier organisation and ultimately a more resilient one.
It is in everyone’s interests that we check the spiralling levels of inequality we are seeing across Britain today. Fair pay structures and just as importantly, transparency around them, are one way that employers of all sizes can make a difference. For us, becoming a Pay Compare Mark employer is a win-win situation and I hope that many others will join us.
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain
This is a guest blog and the views of the author are not necessarily those of The Equality Trust.