13 April 2018
After much press coverage in the build up to the reporting deadline of 4 April 2018, organisations employing more than 250 employees have now published their gender pay gap data and the results are now available for all to see.
While the BBC reported that around 1,500 organisations missed the deadline to report, the results that are in make for tough reading. Some organisations may still be stomaching stark figures they have published which show high levels of gender pay gaps. Other organisations may be pleased with their figures, especially if their levels of reported pay gaps are lower than those of competitors. In both scenarios, the gender pay gap reporting represents an opportunity for employers to collaborate with their workforces to ensure diversity in their workplaces. Filing the report should therefore only be the start of a longer-term project towards promoting and maintaining diversity in the workplace.
Early reports suggest that in general the pay gap was in favour of men. On the day of the deadline, the Guardian’s reported statistics showed that around 8 out of 10 organisations had a gender pay gap in favour of men, with the median gap being around 9.7%.
The approaches from employers on reporting their pay gaps differed significantly. Some organisations took the opportunity when publishing their results to accompany the results with detailed explanations and suggestions on why a gender pay gap existed, and then set out steps they were taking to reduce any such gap.
Public pressure towards gender pay was seen in the build up to reports being published. While some organisations initially did not include senior executives (including equity partners of LLPs of major tax firms and law firms) in their reports, some organisations responded to this criticism by releasing an updated set of figures to include these higher paid individuals.
The effectiveness of the gender pay gap reporting regime will largely depend on the steps organisations take now. The government has a publicly accessible online database where the public can search for organisations to view their reported gender pay gaps. The hope behind this is to put public pressure on organisations with a particularly large pay gap (for example in industries such as finance, construction and education) to address the imbalance, especially if their competitors report lower gender pay gaps.
Organisations should now be reflecting on their figures to work out what they should be doing moving forwards and to consider how their annual figures may look for the following year. Gender pay gap reporting is an annual requirement and if no action is taken now, it is likely the figures will be similar next year which may be harder to explain.
Clearly, one of the greatest historical reasons for gender inequality in the workforce is the disproportionate representation of males at senior executive level. Organisations should be taking a broad view of their operations to see if they have such an imbalance in higher level positions, and if so the reasons for this.
Organisations should engage with staff to be transparent on any pay gaps that have been found, and explain any initiatives being made to address the imbalance. Clearly, if an organisation’s gender pay gap increases from year to year, this could cause friction within the workforce.
Clearly, the effectiveness of the reporting will depend on how the trend in gender pay gaps develops over time. Many will be eagerly awaiting changes to perceptions of genders in the workforce and hope that the pay gap will reduce over time. While discrimination in the workplace is universally acknowledged as unlawful, many would argue that we have not yet reached true equality between males and females in the workplace.