Regardless of how much we may think society is becoming more equal, how much of a burning issue the gender pay gap?
There is a crucial difference between equal pay – the legal requirement to pay men and women equally for doing the same job – and gender pay.
“Gender pay is the mathematical calculation of what men and women in the same organisation earn on average,” explains Lisa Gower of Ubuntu HR. “It is not a straightforward case of enforcing legislation to close the gap, and the issues it throws up can be quite complex.”
Gender pay gap reporting is designed to bring transparency to organisations, following the introduction of new legislation in April 2017. However, will transparency alone be enough to close the gender pay gap?
What Will Reporting Do?
“Many HR professionals have expressed doubts that the new reporting requirements will make little difference to improving gender equality at work,” Lisa observes.
A People Management survey of HR professionals conducted in January 2017 revealed that 47% of them think that gender gap reporting will not make much difference.
“For private sector companies with more than 250 employees, the new requirements will fall on their HR departments. Whether knowing about a gap will translate into taking positive action is a different matter”
Data does not have to be publicly released until April 2018 but, as the BBC gender pay gap story showed, when it does, it might make significant waves.
Many organisations will be looking to HR to make strategic changes to try and deal with the gender pay gap. Communications around pay and rewards will be crucial.
“There’s an issue here around reputation management, and internal communications, as no company should want its employees to find out the results for themselves first through the press, or the government’s website”
Organisations, via their HR departments, are also likely to need to look at their recruitment policies, and how to raise pay for women.
“Other issues will be around flexible working and promoting and hiring more women in an organisation,” suggests Lisa.
Transparency and Improvement
There is a criticism that the new reporting requirements will have less practical effects than efforts to promote new initiatives on a nationwide basis such as better shared parental leave.
“To an extent, the concept of greater openness about the gender pay gap is new, and the true impact may take time to filter through concrete policies that enact real change”
“For now, we should see gender pay reporting as a step in the right direction.