“Yes! Yes! Yes!” cries Streep, as Arquette’s Oscars speech calls for equal pay for women

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09 Mar 2015

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One of the major talking points at the 87th annual academy awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night was best supporting actress winner Patricia Arquette calling for “wage equality… And equal rights for women in the United States of America”[1] during her acceptance speech.

Her declaration follows an interview last month in which she revealed that she “paid more money to [her…] babysitter and […] dog walker than [she…] made on Boyhood, and to be in Boyhood!”[2] – a film that took 12 years to film, during which time she won an Emmy award and was nominated for two Golden Globes for her role in the T.V. series Medium[3]. It could be argued that, as a result of the lengthy production period, she has become a more bankable star than when the film first started shooting. That being said, Jennifer Lawrence – named by Variety as the most bankable star of 2013[4] – was also in the press recently about pay discrimination for her role in American Hustle.

A hack of Sony Pictures in December showed that, despite being an A-list Oscar winning actress, Lawrence “was on 7% deal [for the film shot in 2013], while male co-stars Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper were on 9% each”[5] When questioned about it, the co-chair of Sony Pictures – Amy Pascal – said “There is truth here”; a shocking reaction when you consider that, for U.S. citizens, the Equal Pay Act came into force in 1963[6] to stop discrimination in the workplace; something that many government figures still feel strongly about. In fact, Arquette’s speech at the Oscars spurred New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez to take to Twitter to write “we need #equalpay for equal work”[7] and he has since said in a radio interview that he will reintroduce equal rights legislation[8].

Arquette’s speech was also rapturously applauded by fellow actresses Meryl Streep (also nominated in this year’s Best Supporting Actress category) and Jennifer Lopez; with many of the public close behind - the hashtag #FeministOscars trending on Twitter[9]. However, it’s not just in the U.S. that equal pay is still a topic of debate. In 2013, Fawcett Society – the U.K.’s leading women’s right charity – argued that “women still face a stark gap in their earnings compared to men’s”[10]; even though the U.K.’s Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970[11] to ensure equal treatment across genders for ‘like work’ – i.e. work that is either the same or very similar. Although more women work part-time than men, Fawcett still believes an element of discrimination is at play.

Intrigued by this, pay and benefits specialists Croner Reward would be interested in hearing from business owners about their thoughts on the current pay situation across genders and the steps they take to ensure fairness. Furthermore, for businesses that are interested to learn more, Croner Reward can compile a survey of these findings for reference.

Additionally, practical advice can be offered to any companies who are not sure whether their pay structure would pass an equal pay test - please see our gender pay gap reporting service for more information. Should you be interested in any of the above, please contact Suzanne McDermid on 01785 826283.

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