Ker-ching….sort of.

If money go before, all ways do lie open.

I always knew there was a reason I liked this industry so much.

Step forward and take a bow, Lawsons, Keyline, Huws Gray, Elliott Brothers, Williams Trade Supplies, Donaldson Timber, Parker Building Supplies and all those other merchants who are currently bucking the pay gap trend and, on balance, paying more to women than to men.

This isn’t about me going all Andrea Dworkin on the industry (look her up, if you don’t know who I mean), rather giving praise and acknowledgement where it is due. This industry has been taking about improving diversity for a while now (in terms of gender diversity anyway. There’s a long way to go in other areas), so it’s great to see some companies have been putting their money – literally – where their mouth is.

In some ways I think this may be more a reflection of the sort of areas in merchanting that women are more likely to be employed in – office-based, sales or management roles might be expected to command slightly higher salaries than you might find in the yard. However, it’s still good to see that many merchant companies are bucking the national trend. Obviously, in an ideal world, there would be no disparity at all; the best company to work for would be one where the percentage was 0% in favour of men or women, because everyone was being paid what the job was worth, regardless of anything else.

Merchanting doesn’t have the greatest profile as far as careers go, there are still way too many people who have no clue what a builders merchant is or does. Even the government isn’t quite sure where to put the sector – on the gender pay search results page I found the entries for the builders merchant, not under  ‘agents in building material distribution’, but lumped together with wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles.

So, it’s good to see that the industry is just quietly getting on with rectifying the balance, while other,  more high-profile, supposedly sexier industries lag behind.



About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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