The final deadline has expired for UK companies with 250+ employees to report their gender pay gap - the average difference between what they pay male and female employees - to the Government Equalities Office.
Of all businesses legally required to report their gender pay gap that have submitted their data so far, 78 per cent pay men more than women, while 14 per cent pay women more. Meanwhile, just 8 per cent of companies revealed they had no gender pay gap at all.
Among the worst offenders, the gender pay gap stands at more than 85 per cent. To put it into context that’s almost five times higher than the national average - 18.4 per cent for full-time and part-time workers combined, and 9.1 per cent for full-time workers only.
With next years’ reports based on data ‘snapshot’ dates from this year (31st March 2018 for public sector organisations and 5th April 2018 for businesses and charities), employers that have not taken the opportunity to evaluate their results and start to implement changes will see no difference when they come to report again in a years’ time.
The onus is now on organisations to understand the scale of their pay gap, why it exists and take steps to address the imbalance if applicable.
Rachel Mapleston, Business Analyst at leading HR and payroll supplier MHR shares five ways organisations can improve gender equality in the workplace and break down the barriers to drive women’s career progression.
- Consider Flexible Working
Flexible hours, remote working and job sharing allow for a healthier work-life balance, and could help reduce your gender pay gap. As women predominantly take on the responsibility of childcare, flexible working provides them with the opportunity to take on more senior roles without it conflicting with their childcare commitments.
And there are additional benefits to offering flexible working conditions: research has shown that companies that adopt a flexible working policy typically see an increase in productivity and profit.
- Evaluate Your Recruitment Process
Preconceptions about certain roles or industries may lead to fewer women applying for positions than men – for example in engineering or the sciences. This results in candidate shortlists that are dominated by men.
The introduction of unbiased training for those involved in the selection process, as well as predefined shortlist splits, could improve the number of women being interviewed for positions in male-dominated industries. After all, gender-diverse organisations, and particularly senior leadership teams, have been proven to increase performance.
- Take Succession Planning Seriously
Succession planning is the identification and development of employees who could step into senior roles when a person leaves or retires. This is strategically beneficial to employers, as it allows them to continue with ‘business as usual’ when a role becomes available.
For employees, this provides them with a sense of being valued, which is likely to increase their loyalty and productivity, and allows targeted training to aid their progression. As women are more likely to take on roles with less responsibility due to childcare commitments, succession planning can highlight those with potential and put in place a career path to those senior roles.
- Tackle Industry Bias
Ingrained cultural assumptions can deter women from applying for positions in certain industries considered ‘male’. This can stem from an early age as a result of subject choices, with stereotypes, and a lack of mentoring at primary school age thought to be key contributors.
Although employers may believe they cannot alter this mind-set, publicising a gender-diverse organisation, building advertising campaigns designed to challenge assumptions around gender roles, and discussing their industry and roles with the wider community are just some of the ways they can contribute to reducing this bias.
- Get Everyone on Board
Once organisations have a plan in place, it is vital that they gain buy-in from their board members from the outset – this is fundamental to the plan’s success and longevity. Without this backing, Gender Pay Gap reporting could become a Payroll/HR data gathering exercise with no real purpose.
Closing the Gender Pay Gap and working towards a more gender-diverse workforce represents a major cultural shift towards a modern way of working. What’s more, these changes have proven to have positive results for organisations, both in terms of productivity and engagement. Will yours be one of them?