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Issues in the UK: Gender Pay Gap, UK Underclass and Racism

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2921 words Published: 8th Sep 2017

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What is the gender pay gap and why does it occur?

Gender pay gap has been a contentious issue for the last two decades, the recent the international women’s day celebration brought the issue into spotlight. Gender pay gap simply the differences in wages paid to men and women. The advocate of gender pay gap argued that men are paid more money than women for the same job, in other word, it is immoral and create inequality in the society. The cent study conducted by the European Union Commission on pay structure across the member states indicated that the main cause of gender pay gap is the way women competencies are measured against men. For instance, jobs that are required limited skills or qualification are undervalued and poorly paid because they are dominated by women. In addition, jobs in the construction companies are dominated by men and the wages structure is higher when compared to jobs like cleaning, cooking or even nursing. This is because employers judge people based on their physicality in this jobs rather than the skills and knowledge of the employer. Another example, is most individual that works as a cashier in the supermarket are women, while men tends to work in the warehouse, stacking shelve and other role that require physical ability, the comparison is the women are pay less because they work on the till compared to men that are involved in physical task.

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Drolet and Mumford (2011) indicated that gender pay gap is influenced by different factors such as discrimination, stereotyping, family and societal factors. The scholar argued that most women are likely to work in part-time compared to men because they have to undertake other roles such as caring for their children, parent or taking an unpaid job in the society. Hence, because of their limited commitment to work, it is difficult for them to attain managerial roles. The Office for National Statistic figures on earning in 2016 shows that 26% of women earn less than men which indicated that women in full time employment earn less than men by £5,732. Rubery(2015) suggested that gender pay gap is caused by the kind of occupation and industry were women seek work. He argued that women are more commitment to health and social care organisations because they are good with been compassionate and empathy compared with scientific or high tech industries that nurture and pay their employees more for their expertise. Most of the employees of high tech organisations are dominated by men because of the long hours and commitment required for their role.

There are many factors that causes gender pay gap, and it essential to have an in-depth understanding of the causes of the problem in order to make any suggestions on how the government and organisation can work together to limit or eliminate pay inequality and stereotyping in our society. One of the main factor of gender pay gap is discrimination, and this could be direct or indirect discrimination. Some organisations prefer to employ men because they are more committed to their job, because of this, they pay them more money and more also, men do not usually take time off to take care of their children or parents compared to women. Recent study conducted by Fawcett Society shows that women are unfairly especially when they return back from maternity. A record number of women are forced to leave their job after having a baby because of poor treatment at work. (Fawcettsociety, 2017).

Secondly, women’s competences and skills are undervalued, men in the same or similarly role with the same qualification are paid more than women. For instance, Birmingham Council was forced to pay compensation to predominantly women workers such as cook, cleaners, care staff etc. because they were denied bonuses compared to men that works as refuse collector, road workers and street cleaners. The bonus was based on the physical task of the role rather than the skill and knowledge of the individual. On other factor is that women take up more responsibilities that men when it comes to the society and caring. Women have to balance between taking care of their family and work, and tend to work part time because they share Unequal caring responsibilities with men. The argument is that women play a greater role in caring for children, as well as for sick or elderly relatives, as a result they take up mostly part time role that are generally lower paid job with limited progression opportunities (Fawcettsociety, 2017).

The introduction of Equality Act 2010 has strengthened the right of women in the workplace. It is unlawful for an organisation to discriminate against an individual because of their gender or sex (Dawson, 2014). Likewise, either man or woman should be given equal of opportunity to fulfil their potential. Meaning organisations or employers have to be flexible and consider that women play more role in the society such as taking care of their and parents, and make their job flexible and create a platform for them to progress to managerial role. It should not be based on the hour you put in, but the quality of the work.

What is institutional racism in policing? How can we address this issue?

The word institutional racism gain prominence during Macpherson’s report for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. Although, it has been used extensively by some scholar’s study on racism in the past. The findings of the report indicated organisations especially in the public sectors is riddled with institutional racism such as stereotyping, fear and contempt for ordinary people especially a black people (Ray, Smith and Wastell, 1999).MacPherson refers to institutional racism as “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin”, and went on to conclude, “It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people (Ray, Smith and Wastell, 1999).

According to Souhami (2012), stereotyping and discrimination are factors associated with institutional racism. It is about typecasting people because of their race, colour, religion or nationality. Regarding, Macpherson report, black people are not provided the same level of service provided to white citizens by the police force because of the stereotyping approach employed by the Metropolitan police. Black citizens are classified as people with riddled with crime and drugs, which was one of the reason why Stephen Lawrence case was not taken seriously at the beginning. Hence, it can be argued that institutional racism is has link with stereotyping, ignorance of people and social inequality or diversity. Research has shown that United Kingdom one of the diverse and multicultural country in the world, however many institution including the police are yet to accurately reflect the country’s diversity within their workforce, particularly at the managerial levels.

Research conducted by Souhami (2012) on institutional racism and police reform: an empirical critique, “Policing and Society” revealed that white applicant into the police force are more likely to get a better chance of getting job and progress to the managerial level compared to people from the minority group. In addition, the newly published data from the Office for National Statistic indicated that 32 of Britain’s 45 territorial police forces employed a greater proportion of white applicants that other ethnicity that identify themselves as being from a BAME background (Ons, 2017). The findings were supported by the London’s Metropolitan Police chief, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe who pointed that police chiefs in every part of the country has to be held accountable for failing to recruit people of their groups of the society that can positively reflect the communities they serve” (Dodd, 2017)

Dealing with institutional racism requires wider effort of the public and private sectors, schools, communities by educating people about the importance of diversity, and learning to understand and respect other’s people beliefs, culture or value. To mitigate against institutional racism in the police, the organisation has to embark on training their workforce on the importance of equality and diversity in the society. More also, the police force need to deploy a recruitment and selection process that will allow underrepresented groups to have a chance of getting employment and progression to the senior level of management in the police force. An independent body should also handle the complaints against the police for any investigation about racism or discrimination is transparency and credible in order to gain back the trust of the public. Officers that displayed violent behaviour against black people or other ethnicity should be prosecuted and face the consequences of their actions. In regard to the figures of ethnicity in the police force, the management should create progression route for minorities that apply to join the police for them to be part of the management, training and development to enhance their skills.

Additionally, positive steps should be taken to drive recruitment of underrepresented groups in order to reflect the diversity of the nation. Continuous training should be provided on equality and diversity for new and current employees to promote equality and diversity in the police force. To reform and create a dynamic workforce, the police force can set up a cultural day whereby employees are encouraged to bring their traditional food, wear their attires and share their cultures and values with their peers. This will help police force employees to understand diversity in their own practice which can be demonstrated in the public.

Does the UK have an underclass?

Recently, there have been a lot of debates about social inequality and isolation in the UK politics. Social inequality is described the extent to which there are differences between groups in society (Amin and Sabermahani, 2017). It occurs in employment, life expectancy, access to education, business loans, mortality or morbidity rate. Some groups of the society are faced with the issues of struggle with social inequality in the sense that they do not have access to the same opportunity like others. The London riot in August 2011 was caused by social inequality because most the rioters came from poor and deprived areas with limited opportunity, lack of education and neighbourhood blighted with drugs (Liu and Bloom, 2006). The findings show that most of rioters came from neighbourhoods which were ethnically diverse or “fractionalized.” By going the definition of underclass by Lawrence M. Mead, in his book “Beyond Entitlement”, underclass as group of people who are poor and behaviourally deficient, the rioters fit into this category (Mead, 1998). However, been poor does not necessarily mean an individual will have behaviour problems. The case of rioters as underclass was caused by social inequality and isolation by the government. In Britain, the media hep to promote the image of an underclass as someone on benefit that have cultivated the culture of poverty and laziness. Programmes like Benefits Britain: Life on The Dole, Benefits Street, Skint and Saints and Scroungers help also help to promote the idea of an underclass by providing ‘real world’ examples and images (Donaldson, 2014)

The word “underclass” is an ambiguous, impudent and subjective. According to Myrdal (1982), a Swedish social scientist refers to underclass as the “class of unemployed, unemployables, and unemployed who are more and more hopelessly set apart from the nation at large and do not share in its life, its ambitions and its achievements”. Mead (1998) defines underclass as a group that is poor and behaviourally deficient. He describes the underclass as dysfunctional. The underclass group are usually delineated and associated with people that have low aspirations, unemployed, lazy, have criminal record and poorly educated as well as coming from a family with instability and drug and alcohol addictions. However, the so call underclass group in Britain tend to have experience various forms of inequality and disadvantage in the labour market. They are very low wages, live in deprived areas with less opportunity and some end been addicted to drug because of low self-esteem.

Murray (2008), in his book “Losing Ground” argued that welfare dependency has encouraged the break-up of the nuclear family household, and socialisation into a counter-culture which devalues work and encourages dependency and criminality.

Lewis (2000) on the other hand, believes that culture of poverty’ is part of the coping strategies by which the poorest of the poor managed to survive. He argued that once an individual embrace this culture, it is difficult for them to break from it, hence making such individual to be an underclass. The scholar view “culture of poverty” as historically specific, emerging out of the problems of societal transition and the breakdown of the social order in an industrial/capitalist society. The culture of poverty theory states that living in conditions of pervasive poverty will lead to the development of a culture or subculture adapted to those conditions. This culture is characterized by ‘pervasive feelings of helplessness, dependency, marginality, and powerlessness’ (Lewis, 2000).

However, In Britain, the “underclass group” live in deprived areas of the country where there is less opportunity, fewer jobs, community is usually faced with drug and alcohol addiction as well as people with low self-esteem and peer pressure from there be part of the same group. Did they bring this problem up themselves? Wilson (2012) argued that Wilson argues that when communities experience widespread joblessness, they “experience a social isolation that excludes them from the job network system. Wilson (2012) indicated that the main issue facing members of the underclass is “joblessness reinforced by an increasing social isolation in an impoverished neighbourhood”. They not only suffer from lower socioeconomic status, minimal education, and lack of opportunities, but they are further victimized by a lack of community safeguards and resources.

The UK government help to create underclass group in the society because of social inequality, lack of opportunity and equality for certain group of people. They were seen as a problem group and given handout to keep satisfied without any real hope of integration into the main stream of the society. There are many factors to the problem, institutional racism where some people or individual typecast as not “fit for purpose”, stereotyping and lack of equality and diversity in every spectrum of the society. So yes, UK have an underclass group.


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