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The Gender Pay Gap: Trying to Narrow It

More than 96 percent of the company’s field technicians, who install the boxes and cables that deliver television and broadband services to people’s homes, are men. Some of Virgin’s technical sites did not even have women’s toilets. And the environment could feel intimidating because there were simply no other women around.

“My training was me and 30 other guys,”Ms. Worrall said. “It was quite daunting at first.”

Virgin reported a median pay gap of 17.4 percent, meaning that women earned around 83 pounds for every 100 pounds earned by men (100 pounds is about $140). Women make up half the company’s customers but only 29 percent of its staff, and female clients are increasingly requesting female field technicians to install Virgin’s media services at home.

The Gender Pay Gap: Trying to Narrow It
The Gender Pay Gap: Trying to Narrow It

To meet the demand, Virgin Media, a subsidiary of Liberty Global with about 13,000 employees, is widening its recruitment net. It has experimented with all-female sets of interns, and requirements to have one woman on every short list for a vacant job, said Catherine Lynch, Virgin Media’s chief people officer.

The company has also sought to increase the proportion of senior women through mentoring and by encouraging women to apply for promotions. That has raised concerns that some women promoted were younger than usual or lacked experience in the departments they were moving into.

Ms. Lynch insists, however, that the moves will pay off.

At the moment, only a quarter of the highest-paid people in the company are women.

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