A couple of weeks ago the BBC reported on a number of high profile organisations that had published data and, in some cases, revealed gender pay gaps considerably above the national average. Phase Eight (the women’s clothing retailer) is singled out as the firm with the biggest gender pay gap (so far) - with a 64.8% lower mean hourly rate for female staff. This led to MP Jess Phillips calling on her Twitter feed for women to "vote with their feet" and boycott the shop.
All organisations employing 250 or more people have until 4 April this year (30 March for public authorities) to publish their gender pay gap reporting data on the Government's website. So far, of the 9,000 or so organisations who are expected to publish their data on the public register, only just over 600 have done so.
Gender pay is a term used to describe any difference in the average pay of all women and men. It is often wrongly conflated with equal pay. However, reporting a gender pay gap does not mean that you are paying women less for doing the same work as a man, which has been unlawful since the 1970's (although sadly, not yet extinguished), or mean that you are at higher risk of receiving discrimination claims. There are many reasons why we still have gender pay gap in the UK, including occupational segregation and the substantial impact on women’s earnings of taking time out of the labour market to have and care for children.
What should you do if your figures don't look great?
There is no need to do anything other than provide the required data. However, it is worth
including a short narrative to provide context and set out the steps your organisation is taking to narrow the gap or at least to explain why there is a gap. The starting point is to consider how your figures compare to the national average and, separately, those in your industry, if that information is available.
figures compare favourably to the national average, you might want to flag this to demonstrate that your business is already “ahead of the curve”. If some of your figures are higher than the national average, you may want to explain the reason for this, particularly if it is only focussed in one part of the business.
Remember though, whatever your figures and whatever you say about them will act as a baseline for future years and can be used to show improvements.
Many of our clients are opting for more transparency. Being open about the issue, why it has arisen and sharing future plans will provide a positive message even if the data itself is somewhat disappointing and will certainly help if, like Phase Eight, your company is singled out for criticism.
Published: 22 January 2018
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