One of British Jewry’s leading female representatives has warned the BBC’s gender pay gap is mirrored in the Jewish community – and that communal figures can thank their lucky stars they don’t have to disclose it.
Writing in this week’s Jewish News, Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks says: “We share many of the same gender challenges as the BBC or any other organisation, but we have specific challenges of our own, too.”
Marks, who co-chaired Women in Jewish Leadership from 2011-17, said Jewish community “norms” contribute to a gender pay gap last recorded as 22 percent in 2014.
These include women’s low demands, she said, as well as “the old boy network” and “demands put on women in regard to family responsibilities”.
New rules mean that, from April next year, organisations with 250 or more employees need to publish any gender pay disparities, a prospect that would send shivers down the spine of communal leaders, according to Marks.
“Many of our Jewish communal organisations will breathe a sigh of relief that they are not big enough to need to disclose,” she says.
Her comments echo concerns raised by national figures, such as TV news presenter Emily Maitlis, who did not appear on the BBC’s list of stars paid more than £150,000, despite fellow news presenters earning far more, including Jeremy Vine on up to £750,000 and John Humphrys on up to £650,000.
Marks says she was encouraged to see that Jonathan Goldstein, the new chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, has promised to tackle gender pay disparities in the community.
She adds: “We hope that with support, the new chair will see pay and leadership equality as a communal issue worthy of scrutiny.”