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A TRAVEL insurance company which offers female customers a 16 per cent "gender pay gap" discount says only “men’s rights activists” have complained about the policy.
But according to Ben Webster, co-founder of Travel With Jane, all men have to do to claim the discount - which is “definitely not a gimmick” - is say they identify as female. He said since announcing the policy to mark International Women’s Day in March, sales had increased by 45 per cent.
“I’m giving away margin to do this,” he said. “The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, with the exception of some loud noises on Facebook. We still offer services to men, and if men choose to say they identify as a woman, they can get the discount as well.”
He said a lot of the protests had come from overseas. “People from the US have threatened us with legal action and all kinds of things,” he said. “They’re not going to get very far. It is that typical profile of, for want of a better term, men’s rights activists that are engaged with that kind of issue.
“They tend to say that the gender pay gap is a myth, that women make choices leading to them receiving less pay, and that this is clearly discriminatory. When we engage with them over the facts, it doesn’t tend to lead anywhere.”
The 16 per cent discount is based on the so-called “gender pay gap”, the difference between average weekly earnings for men and women.
According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the 16 per cent figure “reflects the overall position of women in the workforce and does not reflect ‘like-for-like’ pay gaps for employees in the same or comparable roles”.
Critics of the gender pay gap argue the differences in average earnings result from life choices made by women, and do not account for occupation, position, education, experience or hours worked. But proponents say there is evidence that women are paid less than men for doing the same jobs.
Mr Webster said there was no gender pay gap at his company, which employs seven men and five women. “As an owner of a business, there are very few ways I can create awareness around this issue,” he said. “Internally, we can ensure we stay diverse and make sure pay scales are equal, but externally this is the only lever I can pull.
“Women get it, despite men making noise and thinking that the gender pay gap is a myth, women live it and understand it. Overwhelmingly men are at the higher levels of business, and they need to be constantly vigilant of their embedded biases.”
Last year, a New York pharmacy introduced a 7 per cent “man tax” as a publicity stunt to raise awareness of “gender pricing discrimination”, based on a study which found products marketed to women were on average 7 per cent more expensive than equivalent products marketed to men.
The owner of that pharmacy was forced to clarify that she was not increasing the price of products by 7 per cent for men, but offering women a 7 per cent discount.
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