Creative recruiter exposes identity pay gap for freelancers in the North

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The freelance workforce in the North of the UK is suffering from three significant pay gaps in and around some of its most creative roles.

Having polled 450 digital, marketing, product and creative workers in the Midlands, North East and North West, Major Players found the gaps affect gender, ethnicity and identity.

On gender, and within roles that are freelance, the recruitment agency found the age-old pay skew in favour of men to be “considerably higher” than the UK average -- at a hefty 15.9%.

Women in freelance roles therefore take home a swingeing £62 less than their male colleagues, the agency said in its ‘North Census,’ which also covers Yorkshire & the Humber and Scotland.

'Downward pay trend continues'

On ethnicity, and again within creative assignments which have been carried out on a freelance basis, the pay gap is similarly marked -- albeit about half as much, at some 7.1%.

Major Players said such a gap equates to “Asian, Black, Mixed, Arabic or Other background” freelancers commanding an average of £23 less than their White or Caucasian counterparts.

On the same per day basis across the five northerly regions, the agency found the downward pay “trend continued” for other under-represented self-employed, notably for LGBTQIA+ freelancers.

'Fear of negativity or discrimination for a third of LGBTQIA+ freelancers'

According to the census such individuals, who include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersexual and asexual freelancers, earn seven per cent less in day rates versus the same community in the UK, who earns 1.4% less than heterosexuals.

FreelanceUK has invited Major Players to comment on the identity; ethnicity and gender pay gaps; asked why they are so significant, and asked what might be done to close the gaps.

But taking to LinkedIn yesterday, the agency’s George Greenaway-Poole signalled that LGBTQIA+ freelancers are contending with even more than pay disparities.

“I saw a recent statistic which said that more than 35% of the LGBTQIA+ community hide their sexuality at work in fear of negativity or discrimination,” Mr Greenaway-Poole wrote.

“And for those that are 'out', this is something we have to do on the regularly (sometimes daily), and it's frankly exhausting.”

'Emotionally draining'

Major Players’ marketing director, Greenaway-Poole described the process of having to come out over and over again as “emotionally draining.”

He added that individuals and businesses could help “shift the dial” by “respecting pronouns” (‘instead of assuming just ask people what their pronouns are’); and including “visual cues” in work settings (like hanging Pride flags or rainbow accessories).

The senior marketer further recommended using “inclusive language” (‘avoid assumptions when posing personal queries and use gender-neutral terms’), and "checking-in" with LGBTQ+ co-workers and friends by “genuinely asking about their well-being.”


Greenaway-Poole’s post continued: “[So] foster authentic connections. Build meaningful relationships with LGBTQ+ colleagues, friends, and family, and support LGBTQ+ communities by engaging with organisations and businesses that advance their rights.

“These seemingly small changes can have profound positive impact's on the belonging for LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.”

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