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EXCLUSIVE: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backs Make Them Pay

By Phebe Hunnicutt

ELLE’s ‘Make Them Pay’ campaign, to encourage women to ask their male colleagues how much they earn, was given a significant boost on Saturday after the Deputy Prime Minister backed us.

Nick Clegg said we should feel free to ask the question – and that most men would be happy to tell us.

It comes a day after Women and Equalities minister Jo Swinson also supported our initiative, encouraging women to break a British taboo and broach the subject of pay to ensure we are not being shortchanged.

Mr Clegg said: “I am right behind Elle’s campaign for equal pay.

“Women should feel free to ask male colleagues how much they earn in the same jobs and I’m sure most men would want to help. This is a simple step, which could have a big impact.

“But the gender pay gap is a stubborn problem, although progress has been made, government and businesses need to do their bit too. We are introducing equal pay audits which will force employers who break the law to change.”

He also called on men to help more with childcare so women don’t always have to put their careers on hold.

“And we’re tackling the wider causes of pay inequality. As I’ve long said, when starting a family, men need to do more of the heavy lifting,” he said.

“That’s why we’re ditching out-dated maternity leave and allowing couples to share parental leave so women aren’t always expected to put their careers on hold.”

We’re delighted the Deputy Prime Minister is supporting our ‘Make Them Pay’ campaign, launched in conjunction with The Feminist Times and Mother London.

It comes off the back of Women and Equalities minister Jo Swinson also backing our campaign, urging women to confront male colleagues about their salaries and encouraging ‘people to open up about pay’.

She told us: 'I think sometimes there’s something very British in our culture where we don’t talk about money, and I think that is one of things that holds women back. If women realised they were earning significantly less than male colleagues at a similar level that might be the catalyst they need to ask for a pay rise. I think ELLE are to be highly commended for this.'

However, she revealed her concern that the gender pay divide is not reducing fast enough and warned that if they didn’t take action she could force businesses to reveal how much more they pay men than women.

'While the pay gap is reducing a bit, it’s not reducing enough.

'I think we need to recognise that the Government does have the power to impose equal pay audits, and it may well be that if we do not see success through [voluntary schemes] that might be the only way to make this happen.'

Swinson, who has been a Member of Parliament since 2005, also backed our campaign to rebrand feminism.

‘I would absolutely call myself a feminist, without hesitating. And it makes me sad when you hear people don’t want to call themselves a feminist, whether they’re a bloke or a teenage girl, because they think the word has negative connotations.

'Feminism is about equality between men and women and is something that will improve our society. We need to be very clear about claiming that word as something positive.'

Read ELLE's rebranding feminism campaign. Buy the November issue here

Find out more about ELLE's rebranding feminism campaign here

Vagenda and W+K's #iamawomanand campaign

November cover star: Natalie Portman

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