The Gender Pay Gap - A Cactus Insight



The Gender Pay Gap - A Cactus Insight

It’s always been an interesting subject in our business, with currently 54% of employees being female and 73% of Cactus employees having children or are just about to! and we are a business which is very geared around our families.  There is no gender pay gap at Cactus, but with part of our overall pay being related to individual performance bonus, this is where the ‘pay gap ‘comes in to play, you can’t achieve your individual bonus when you are not there to earn it!  So how do we all feel about that? 

As a Director of the business and mother of 5 year old twin boys I am very fortunate that I’ve largely been able to ‘have my cake and eat it!’. But that’s down to working up until the day before the boys arrived and then going back to work after 6 months, having twins also meant that I only took maternity leave once, (and were not having any more, believe me!!!). 

For some of my colleagues however, it’s definitely proved more disruptive, its tough to leave all your accounts for 6 months, then come back and have to start all over again building up your pipeline.  It can be tough taking just 2 weeks out of recruitment, but 6 months just wipes you out. Now think about working hard to build your accounts up again only to get pregnant for a second time and ‘BAM’ you are back to square one again..... It’s really tough and with 2 sets of childcare to pay you need to work even harder to maintain the same level of earning.

So what do we all think? It’s a tricky one, we all agree that if the father earns more money then it makes sense on a purely financial basis that he be the one to go back to work, that’s the easy equation. But it’s not just about the money, it’s also about career. For one member of our team, who used to work in design, she was unable to go back to her previous role before children as she was expected to work to very tight deadlines, which could mean working late at night, when you have child commitments this is impossible. So the expectations of the job have to change, or you have to change jobs and in the case of this person, she has found it really hard to get back to her career path and associated earnings pre children.

But what if the Mother earns more than the Father?  It sounds like the equation should work the other way, but in reality does this happen and would we instinctively want this to happen? Most of the mothers in our business feel that they would want to take the maternity leave for the 1st six months, many citing a ‘guilt factor’, but there is also a biological factor that we cannot ignore, as Mothers we were designed to be there to feed and nurture our young, but I think we have to be realistic, I knew that taking 6 months out was the right thing to do, not only from a business perspective, but from an instinctive perspective too. I wanted to be there during those first 6 months to be their Mother, to learn, to enjoy, to bond and witness the amazing development that takes place, but I was also ready to come back to work. It’s really tough being at home, the twins were extremely demanding and I was definitely out of my depth!  My sisters and a large majority of my closest female friends don’t work and there are days that I am envious of that but for the most part, I am glad for my work.   I’ve experienced both sides of the fence and I can speak with conviction that being a full-time Mum is seriously hard work, I came back to work for a rest! And that maybe an important factor to consider, do Fathers really want to take on the role as full-time carer? not only because it’s a really tough gig, but also because there is still a definite stigma attached to it.  Equality in all things is what we all strive for, but life just isn’t that straightforward, as parents we both have an important part to play in the development of our children, not just for our own family but for the future of our society. 

I do think it can be tough on women who are career minded, there is no excuse for a man and women who are doing exactly the same job to be paid differently, but you can’t pay someone the same if they are working different hours, that just doesn’t add up and as a business owner I see it from a number of angles. Its about balance and achieving the right balance for you and your family.  It’s about working for an organisation that respects you as a parent as well as an employee, but its also about being fair to your employer. At Cactus we work hard to ensure a good balance for everyone regardless of their situation in life and no one minds if you need to leave early because your child is ill or needs you, because it’s our fundamental belief that the welfare of your children has to come first, regardless of anything else.

By Francesca Randle - Director at Cactus Search and Frontline

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