Peninsula Head of Advisory Kate Palmer discusses how businesses can take positive action to reduce the gender pay gap in their organisation.
From 2014-2016 Peninsula experienced a 83% increase in advice requests regarding gender discrimination with the on-going gender pay gap discussion being the most prevalent issue for business owners. Following today’s BBC report, which saw the corporation admitting that two-thirds of its top-paid stars are men, we would expect calls to increase.
The corporation is battling a media backlash following today’s publication of the salaries paid to its top talent – not least from GMTV’s Piers Morgan, who broke embargo to criticise his BBC rivals on Twitter.
Which companies have to report on gender pay and when?
Whilst the BBC is one of the first high-profile organisations to publish it’s gender pay gap, from 2018, all businesses with 250 or more employees are required to report on their gender pay information. Having seen the negative coverage today by much of the UK press, it’s fair to say many employers are concerned.
Small businesses will not face this requirement just yet (though this could change at a later date). However, rather than worry, there are steps that employers of all sizes can take to reduce the gender pay gap in their organisation before the reporting requirements come into force.
What is the Gender Pay Gap?
The gender pay gap is, essentially, the difference between men’s and women’s average full-time earnings calculated on an hourly or weekly basis. For full-time workers the current gap is 9.4% meaning a full time female employee earns an average of 9.4% less pay than a full-time male employee.
Removing the gender pay gap within a company might not be as straightforward as it seems because there are complex reasons for the gap such as women taking jobs which are more likely to be lower paid or working fewer hours because of childcare commitments. However, there are simple steps employers can take to aim to reduce the gap in their business.
Carry out a review of job roles
The first step is to carry out a review of the job roles in the business, who carries out the roles and the rates of pay. It will often be the case that there are different pay levels across the business so the next step is to ascertain the reason for the difference.
Is it because the job roles require different skills and qualifications or is it because they have different levels of decision making and responsibility?
If there isn’t a genuine reason for the difference in pay, employers will have to examine if the difference is because one person doing the role is male and the other is female. If this is the case, this is likely to breach discrimination laws and will contribute to the gender pay gap.
Look for subconscious discrimination
Employers should also examine if there is subconscious discrimination taking place in their business. Although treating employees differently because of their gender is outlawed, this may not always mean that managers do not take sex in to account when they are making a decision, whether consciously or subconsciously.
To remove the risk of subconscious discrimination, employers should scrutinise recruitment, promotion and training practices to ensure these offer equal opportunities to both male and female employees and retrain managers in charge of these.
It’s not ‘all about the girls’!
Although the gender pay focus is often on women, employers can consider the opportunities available to men, such as flexible working and rates of pay for family friendly leave.
By offering equal rights to men through these initiatives, employers allow men to contribute equally towards family life and, in turn, ensure women have an equal opportunity to attend work and earn a full-time salary if they choose this.