For the second year, organisations with more that 250 employees are expected to publish their UK gender pay gap data by 4th April 2019.
We know this is a big issue for larger employers. Even businesses who have a positive story to tell have reservations about revealing their data.
So, what if your organisation is facing a negative situation? What happens next if you find that your gender pay gap has actually increased since 2018?
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be a reason to panic. In fact, this could be the moment that prompts change that will be beneficial across the whole business in many unforeseen ways.
It is however also the moment to take decisive action to ensure that the trend is reversed.
Here are some key steps to get you on the track to recovery.
Use data to clarify, not argue the problem away
Gender pay gap data is a snapshot of one month. This can lead to misleading information or an incomplete picture. Ask your data analysts to spend more time looking at the data to establish the true scale of the problem and also to pinpoint where the issues lie.
This is especially important if you already have a number of gender initiatives in place. If these aren’t helping to whittle down the gender pay gap, you need to understand more about where the real problems lie and what is happening to differences in gender pay in more detail.
However – don’t be tempted to use data analysis to argue the problem away or reduce its importance. Accept that you have an issue and that you need to change.
Communicate regret, stay positive and consistent
Ensure senior leaders are on board to share clear, consistent messages across the organisation. This needs to communicate that change is planned and that management will not accept the current situation with regard to pay disparity. It is also appropriate to communicate regret and concern. This is a moment to show that you care and that you will be a catalyst for change.
Remember that communications is two-way, so encourage employees to express their views and also to provide input on how the situation can be changed. Feedback is essential for improvement and the best feedback is from your employees.
Plan quick wins when creating the action plan
Once you have a clear picture of where the issues lie, prioritise sorting out gender pay gaps that can be quickly resolved. Fast action – even quite small gestures – communicates volumes about an organisation’s values and intentions. Share early successes with employees and other stakeholders as this will encourage more action.
At the same time, design an action plan that deals with problems that require more long-term or fundamental solutions. Plot how you will address these and when you hope to see the impact of changes. So, for example, if the key issue is recruiting more senior women and this is an area that you have found challenging in the past, what are the barriers and how are you going to identify or appeal to the available talent in future?
Be inclusive in creating the solution
Invite women to participate in the process of identifying solutions. Consider involving people from other organisations that know you well – for example, recruiters, colleges and universities from which you regularly recruit, agencies and consultants – as they will bring useful and external insights.
If your gender pay gap is increasing, it is likely that there are fundamental and endemic issues in the organisation. These can be resolved but may require tough measures in order to result in real and long-lasting change. This may require major changes in remuneration, career progression, work arrangements and job requirements in order to promote better pay parity. Be prepared to do initiate measures that will make a real difference, even if they require changing key habits and behaviours. The chances are – the change will be beneficial in many more ways that you imagine.
Don’t wait until next year to monitor and measure
Gender pay gap reporting is a once a year regulatory requirement. Businesses need live data on a regular basis in order to make the best decisions. Once a year is not enough. Ask your finance team to prepare regular pay audits so you can track your progress and identify new strategies to help align pay within your business.
Look at pay splits across other diversities
It is very likely that legislation will be introduced requiring business to report their ethnicity pay gaps. If your business has a rising gender pay gap, it is likely that there will be discrepancies along other diversities, and most prominently, between how BAME and other employees are remunerated. Don’t stop at gender: check to make sure that no one else in your business is losing out because of historic biases and inequalities.
A rising gender pay gap is a difficult situation. However, when it is used as a rallying call for change, it can be a powerful metric that drives better business practice and performance by ensuring greater equality and access to opportunity for all your employees.
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.