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The Snowballing Penalty Effect: Multiple Disadvantage and Pay Inequality.

Research Cluster

Speaker:Dr Carol Woodhams, Prof Marc Cowling, Dr Ben Lupton, University of Exeter and Manchester Metropolitan University
Date: Thursday 6 December 2012
Time: 4.30 pm
Location: Conference Room 1, XFI Building

Further details

This presentation will make the case that the current single axis approach to the diagnosis and remedy of pay discrimination is inadequate in the case of multiple disadvantage. Whilst a good deal is known about pay gaps, particularly those affecting women, less is known about those affecting people in other disadvantaged groups and those in more than one such group. Our analysis of multiple years of pay data n=513,000 from a large UK-based company, shows that people with more than one disadvantaged identity suffer a significantly greater pay penalty than those with a single disadvantage. The data also suggests that penalties associated with multiple disadvantage exponentially increase. In other words, disadvantages seem to interact to the detriment of people at “intersections”. We consider the implications for policies aimed at reducing pay inequalities. These currently take a single axis approach and may be misdirected.

Dr Carol Woodhams is a senior lecturer in Human Resource Management at the University of Exeter Business School.  Her specialist teaching subjects are employee resourcing and equality and diversity. Her research topics include students of gender and disability discrimination in the UK and China. Prior to her academic career she held posts in management in the hospitality sector.

Dr Ben Lupton is Principal Lecturer in HRM at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. He teaches in the areas employee resourcing, strategic HRM and employment equality. His main research interests lie in the area of equality and diversity - and he has published widely on this topic. Ben also co-edited the CIPD's text "HRM in an International Context". Prior to becoming a lecturer, he practised as an HR manager in the NHS.

Professor Cowling joined Exeter Business School in Summer 2010. Professor Cowling’s research typically focuses on the dynamics of entrepreneurial activity, looking at the contribution of entrepreneurial human capital and financial capital to successful economic and social outcomes. Recent work in this area has included identifying the characteristics of people who work excessively long hours and assessing why they do so. A new strand of work is considering, across 31 European countries, how far women have permeated the upper echelons of businesses and assumed managerial roles.