With the deadline for reporting gender pay gap right now, almost every UK organisation with more than 250 employees will have already calculated their gender pay for the past 12 months.
No change may feel like a win, especially if you’re aware that some businesses are posting figures that are up on last year.
But no change is not success, though equally, it’s not a great surprise either.
Sorting out a gender pay gap is not a quick ‘fix’.
Nor is it a question of rhetoric or of getting the story straight.
I agree that communications is vital to effective diversity/inclusion programmes. However, too much of gender pay gap reporting is about justifying the unacceptable. Too much senior time is spent fiddling with the wording on these documents or deciding how to respond to questions from journalists. Leaders need to leave the PR team alone and sit down with effective strategists to figure out one question: how do we ensure there are more women among our top earners? Why are women being excluded at the moment? How quickly can we change those conditions?
A gender pay gap means that half of the population in the UK is excluded from the top, best rewarded jobs in your organisation.
Gender parity is not a minority issue – it is a fundamental question of social injustice which has to be eradicated, employer by employer.
And it is vital to use this moment to think about what can be done to ensure improvement into next year – and beyond.
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It could be that 12 months is not enough time to change policies, processes and behaviours that may be limiting female employees from accessing the most senior and well-remunerated roles. Has your gender pay gap stagnated? Will the strategies that are in place be sufficient to bring about change in the medium term?
The only way to get on track with change is to understand why 12 months of action have made no impact – then you can plan on what to do differently. Use data to plot your expectations for how the gender pay gap will change in coming years and to ensure that you are doing enough to make a difference moving forwards.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a dramatic impact on your gender pay gap performance within 12 months. By doing so, you will send a powerful message of equality and inclusion to your workforce, customers and business partners. You will demonstrate that you are a progressive management team, willing to change behaviours in order to do the right thing.
Could you set targets for the number of senior female recruits and promotions in the next 12 months? Create programmes to re-fast track high performing women who may have taken a sideways or downwards step in order to better accommodate the demands of a young family? Ensure your next board level promotion is a female? Or that your next major project has a female leadership team? Could you work with experts that specialise in recruiting senior women? Leave no stone unturned and be prepared to reach beyond your company’s comfort zone to create senior opportunities for women.
Refocus energies on existing strategies
Sometimes only small adjustments are required to get your business back on track for gender parity. It could be that a once excellent female mentoring programme is languishing because someone has left, or that current political and economic uncertainty has shifted away from a focus on employee development.
Use gender pay gap reporting as the opportunity to review all of your gender programmes to ensure that they are delivering results. Ask women (and men) what more could be done to create opportunities – and act on these suggestions. Reinvigorate strategies that are working. Delete or re-invent those that are not delivering results. Create workshops, forums and brainstorms to discuss new ideas. This is a time for planting the seeds that will deliver results in the future. Keep going and you will get back on track.
Show your determination and publicly recommit to change
No individual or organisation enjoys a plateau in their lives. But everyone admires the energy that determination brings.
If your organisation’s gender pay gap has not moved since last year, make sure that people know the business is with that situation.
Leaders should communicate their frustration with the gender pay gap situation to the workforce as well as their determination to get back on an improvement track for next year. Ask for help and input from employees, business partners and advisors. Ensure that your employees know that there is an achievable plan in place and that you are determined to make a difference.
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If you’d like to speak to one of our team on refocusing your Gender Pay Gap efforts, please e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org.