Written by Jacob Montague and

For more details please contact us

The 2019 Gender Pay Gap Report due date is approaching. In just over a month (31st March for public sector organisations and 5th April for businesses and charities), all organisations with 250+ employees will be required to publish and report specific figures about the state of their median and mean gender pay gap.

In fact, some have already submitted their results, but whilst this sounds like positive action on the part of employers, there is cause for concern. Last week, the BBC reported that hundreds of the private companies that have published their data early are reporting wider gender pay gaps than they had last year and that 74% still have a pay gap that favours men.

As if this isn’t worrying enough, further analysis of this year’s early entrants has revealed that almost a third of organisations submitted erroneous data. Data compiled by the analytics firm Paygaps.com revealed that whilst the most common error was failing to provide a link to a written report, nearly 10% of reports published were signed by individuals well below the required management level and, in some scenarios, were signed by individuals not even employed by the organisation submitting the report. It goes without saying that errors such as these could be considered an indication of a lack of concern regarding the report, or even evidence of a belittling attitude towards gender parity.

Looking back at last year’s reports, a key theme across the board is a lack of detail on, or inclusions of, any steps being taken to combat the gender pay gap and how the outcomes of such steps might be measured. Pressure has been steadily building following the inaugural duty to publish galloped into force last year and rightly so. Yet, despite this push for company-wide transparency, facts uncovered from research by INvolve, such as “more FTSE 100 bosses are called David and Steve than are women or people from ethnic minorities”, do little to bolster the modicum of public confidence in most large organisations. Many have been quick to point out that the published reports will be useless if they can’t demonstrate an active change in attitude and business maintenance. Indeed, the Chief Executive of The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) stated “We believe that it should be mandatory for employers to publish, alongside their pay gap data, action plans with specific targets and deadlines”.

The Gender Pay Gap Report is not simply a name and shame exercise but an incentive to change how each organisation (whether big or small) recruits, manages and retains its employees. Getting to the root of the problem is a daunting prospect for many organisations: it is no small feat to understand, address and tackle the pervasive issue of unequal gender pay.

This month the Government Equalities Office has released two new pieces of guidance to spur organisations on to practical and active change. The first, entitled “Eight ways to understand your organisation’s gender pay gap”, sets out concise questions that can help identify any potential causes or barriers to gender pay and parity: (Hint: Gather workplace data where you can, it will greatly ease your quest for answers to the following)

1. Do people get “stuck” at certain levels within your organisation?
2. Is there gender imbalance in your promotions?
3. Are women more likely to be recruited into lower paid roles in your organisation?
4. Do men and women leave your organisation at different rates?
5. Do particular aspects of pay differ by gender?
6. Do men and women receive different performance scores on average?
7. Are you doing all that you can to support part-time employees?
8. Are you supporting both women and men on caring responsibilities?

The second piece of guidance, “Four steps to developing a gender pay gap action plan”, has been collated with the help of employers with existing and effective action plans in place. First and foremost, the guidance makes clear the importance of utilising the data collected by asking the questions detailed above; data that will help identify the barriers at every stage. With this an employer can consult and engage their employees about any proposed action plan, readying them for any upcoming changes and adhering to their feedback. The guidance goes onto stress that embedding and developing a successful gender pay gap action plan takes time. As with everything that truly matters, there is no quick fix.

Although the government has previously stated that it will not review the legislation for 5 years, nothing is set in stone, and perhaps the failings of some published companies will instigate legislative consultation and review. Organisations should be embracing the new legislation, not simply complying with the bare minimum. The benefits of gender pay parity are no secret and whilst some choose to narrowly focus on the social benefits, it is the economic benefits that, once realised, will bare the largest fruit.

If you need help complying with gender pay legislation, assistance with analysing your workplace data, or practical advice on how to create and implement a gender pay gap action plan, our experts can help you. Visit our contact page to get in touch with one of the Forbury People team.

27th February 2019