After all the fuss in the press last week about the gender pay gap reporting, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the gender pay gap is being taken seriously by all employers across the country.
Sadly far from it.
How many submitted pay gap reporting on time
As reported at the CMI Women Great Gender Pay Gap Debate on Monday, more than 10,015 employers met the deadline (midnight Wednesday 4 April), leaving more than 1,500 employers with more than 250 staff failing to report. 15% left it until the very last minute. Good on them. I am sure they had other stuff on their mind, like GDPR or the end of the tax year. It’s not like they haven’t had enough notice.
Bizarrely, 1 in 5 organisations claimed a zero gender pay gap even though their top pay quartile has more than 70% men. I would love to see their Excel spreadsheets and fix their dodgy formulae!
Overall the median pay gap is 10% and the mean pay gap is 15%. Financial services was the worst sector.
What the pay gap is not
First let’s get something straight. The gender pay gap IS not the same as equal pay. Unequal pay – paying men and women differently for performing the same (or similar) work – been unlawful since 1970.
Yes on paper, women have equal opportunity but …
It’s not as simple as that …
It’s not as simple as women being paid less because they are more likely to be working part-time. It’s not as simple as women being paid less because there are less of them in more senior roles. It’s not as simple as some sectors, such as engineering, being less likely to appeal to women.
On Monday night, Sir Terry Morgan CBE CMgr CCMI, chair of Crossrail Ltd pointed out that in engineering “Only five per cent of the intake is female”. He suggested this was just as likely to be that engineering doesn’t fit with the ambitions parents have for their daughters, though I’m not convinced on that particular argument.
What we do know is that that the gender pay gap is greatest in organisations where women are underrepresented, especially in senior roles.
What is really frustrating is that the media coverage has often focussed on the organisations where there is a huge pay gap e.g. Ryanair (71.8% pay gap) when you just know without even looking at their figures, that the high proportion of female cabin crew and high proportion of male pilots is bound to have an impact on the pay gap.
Undoubtedly some organisations have been shocked by their own figures. And although I don’t agree with some measures that organisations put in place to crack that glass ceiling, I also believe that nothing will change until legislation forces employers to do something.
While it’s true that gender pay gap reporting is not a silver bullet, at least we are now having a national debate on the topic, even if you don’t agree with everything that is being said. More companies now have this data than did previously. And you can bet your bottom dollar that none of those companies will want their pay gap to worsen when they report again next year.
We are moving, but are we moving fast enough?
How to close the pay gap now
I’d like to share the ideas that 6 of the best business brains shared on Monday night. The panellists included:
- Heather Melville OBE CCMI, who is chair of CMI Women
- Bruce Carnegie-Brown CCMI, CMI president and chairman of insurance market Lloyd’s of London
- Helene Reardon-Bond OBE, strategic adviser on diversity & inclusion at the Financial Reporting Council
- Brenda Trenowden CCMI, Global Chair, 30% Club
- Sir Terry Morgan CBE CMgr CCMI, the chairmain of Crossrail Ltd
- Peter Ayliffe CMgr CCMI, chairman of Coventry Building Society
1 – Inclusive culture
Organisations need to have an inclusive culture and this means that there needs to be a commitment at the very top of any organisation. Too many companies promote people based solely on their technical experience and competence. The ‘accidental managers’ who have no skills or no interest in managing people can severely damage an organisation’s reputation.
An inclusive culture would make it easier for people to speak up. Let’s shake up that ‘pale, male and stale’ culture manspreading across the corporate seats at the board table.
2 – Support the talent
There are many ways that organisations can do more to support the female talent. Women go ‘missing’ at the middle manager level. Many women leave organisations because they don’t want senior roles which demand long hours or the roles that value presenteeism more than productivity.
It’s about making sure that job descriptions don’t use language that discourage women from applying. Balanced recruitment. Flexible working policies that are more than just words on paper. CMI’s Blueprint for Balance is a good place to start for more ideas.
It’s not that there is a lack of talent; often organisations are looking in the wrong place.
3 – Challenge the board
More and more, shareholders are challenging the board to demonstrate their commitment to gender diversity and gender parity. But we all know that changing culture takes time and requires tough measures.
4 – Make it a business issue
When gender diversity and gender parity becomes a business issue, it is taken more seriously. When gender diversity is linked to bonuses and pay rises, managers and the executive team take more notice.
Research shows that gender-diverse management teams deliver an 18% Return on Investment premium and diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform competitors. Diversity could add $12 trillion annually to the global economy and £150 billion a year to the UK economy in 2025.
5 – Raise awareness
If you are a senior man leaving early for the bedtime routine, make sure your staff know that’s why you’re leaving. Make flexible working more acceptable and not just a working mum’s ‘thing’. Some organisations now use the term ‘agile working’ because ‘flexible working’ has acquired a negative connotation.
6 – Don’t just talk
And finally if you see something that doesn’t look right or feel right, or just isn’t right, call it out. Say something. Speak up. Don’t just talk, take action too. Even if your action is one small action … if we all take enough small actions, that will move us all in the right direction. It’s the starfish story isn’t it. Maybe your one small action on its own can’t change the world, but you can make a difference for that individual person.
What about you?
What about you? What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap reporting? How did your employer do? (Check here). What can YOU do to make a difference? What can you encourage your manager or your organisation to do? Make a commitment today. Leave a comment below.
Together we can change the world.
1 Credit Suisse, The GS Gender 3000 (2014 and 2016)
2 McKinsey, Diversity Matters (2015)
3 McKinsey Global Institute and McKinsey & Company United Kingdom, The Power of Parity, 2015