Tesco and the £4bn Equal Pay Crisis

Checking the news this morning saw something catch my eye – Tesco are heading to court surrounding a £4billion speculation regarding the underpaying of some women in their warehouses.

Alongside the speculation, many shop workers have came forward contending they are doing the same, if not more work than those who work in the warehouse yet are paid around £3 per hour less. This has been interpreted as a gender pay issue and consequently, Tesco are to face the hammer.

If the claim is successful, BBC News has stipulated that thousands of women could be owed up to £20,000 to fill the unearthed gap between their pay, and that of males working in the same profession. It has been discovered that some women are being paid £8 an hour for doing the exact same work as males who are paid up to £11 an hour. The same gap stands for those contending that they are working harder on the shop floor than men in the warehouses.

Equal pay was normalised years ago, so it is so surprising to see large companies such as Tesco still coming under the hammer for a claim so past it’s time. £4billion is already an extortionate pay out, but let’s talk about the possible reprocussions of this lawsuit hitting the press.

What will this lawsuit do to Tesco’s reputation?

Of course, as always, the most interesting thing to me is to look at this from a PR perspective and place my humble opinion on what may happen to Tesco’s reputation if the case does not go in their favour.

Tesco did well to climb it’s way out of the 2013 ‘horsemeat’ scandal, many for sure would have given Tesco the Red Cross after this and wrote off their business as a failure. But, to the surprise of many, 5 years later the crisis has been almost completely forgotten about and Tesco had creditably rebuilt their brand reputation back to what it was.

Being one of the leading U.K. supermarkets, Tesco have a hugely admirable turnover as well as a loyal consumer base and a lasting reputation – but, is this still to be the case following recent unequal pay speculations?

This kind of action is bound to be unforgiven by many, especially with the rise of feminism in recent years and the strive for equality. In my impartial view, Tesco can certainly expect a decline in sales and consumers on the back of this – to those who are so passionate about equality this is set to be unretractable to them and I would be surprised to see Tesco salvage its reputation in the eyes of those who are likely to be extremely disappointed in them. Will it effect their turnovers? Possibly, in my unofficial opinion I believe Tesco can expect some backlash from this, but will it break them entirely? I shouldn’t think so.

Had this case been targeted at a small or even a medium scale business then dissolution may have seemed imminent, but Tesco are a long-standing and well-supported corporation and it is likely that they will be able to reclaim their reputation as they did back in 2013.

Even if the case goes their way – the speculation in the press regardless is bound to still unsettle many and possibly lead to a loss of consumers for Tesco despite legal conclusions. Loss of consumers ultimately means loss of profits – it won’t break Tesco, but it certainly won’t be favourable for them.

Tesco told the BBC that they work hard to ensure all workers are paid “fairly and equally” – let’s see how this case pans out.

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