This time last year many organisations were wrestling with identifying the right data, the calculations and the narrative for their first gender pay report. Most of the focus was on compliance and explanation. This time round many people are seeing it as more of an opportunity, part of developing more inclusive practices and engaging with their current and future employees (and not just in relation to gender).
The key to taking action is to understand what your gender pay information is telling you.
Are there imbalances at senior levels?
A good way to understand what is going on here is to consider the proportion of women applying for these roles. If the numbers applying are disproportionate to the numbers making it through the selection stages, then reviewing your selection processes to eliminate bias, promoting transparency and holding managers to account for hiring decisions would seem to be the appropriate response. If you have a sense that there is a deeper problem at the top of the organisation where decisions are made then getting buy in from the top will be a priority for you.
If there are few women applying for promotion or senior roles then consider what may be stopping them. Are there transparent opportunities for training and development for all, including assignment of projects? Are there opportunities for flexible or part time working in these roles? If there are, make sure that people know about them. If there aren’t, then question whether there is truly a strong business case for not offering that. If women have traditionally entered your organisation at lower levels due to a lack of qualifications or experience, take steps to encourage and support them to acquire the skills and knowledge required to progress.
People often progress in organisations when their talent is recognised and sponsored by someone who can promote their skills and achievements. If this isn’t happening equally for men and women, consider how you might best draw managers’ attention to this and encourage such support. There are additional challenges in performance reviews where women often play down what they do or don’t rate themselves as highly as men, so appraising managers should be conscious of this and ensure that performance is reviewed objectively for all.
What is the gender split take up for flexible working and leave related to caring responsibilities? If few men are accessing these opportunities then it may be worth exploring whether this is because of the financial or career impacts. If the former, then is it time to look at enhancing pay for caring related leave? If the latter, then there is clearly a perception of barriers to promotion or success in your organisation for those who have caring responsibilities which need to be addressed.
If you are in an industry or profession that has been traditionally unattractive to women, you may be able to make a difference to the long term talent pipeline and gender balance by participating in career events and work experiences for schools and colleges.
What about Bonuses and Pay Rises?
Many organisations will find a difference in bonuses and pay rises across the genders but will struggle to identify the specific reasons for this. Developing transparent and objective approaches to reward is the key to establishing pay that is not only felt to be equal but also fair.
One reason often given for an imbalance in these areas is that men tend to be more willing to ask for more money or to shout about their achievements. Finding ways to encourage women to talk about their achievements and encourage managers to talk about the skills and achievements of the women who work for them, doesn’t only address this issue but also raises the confidence of women and respect for them in the workplace.
Are There Differences in Starting Salaries?
If there are gender differences in starting salaries it may be difficult to establish historical reasons for this. However, going forwards stopping the practice of asking people about their current salary can go a long way to avoiding the perpetuation of previous gender pay disparity. Consider how you might best make managers accountable for their decisions relating to pay on appointment.
Why Do People Leave?
If women are leaving your organisation at a higher rate than men, that could impact the numbers of women rising through the ranks. Do you capture the reasons why and are these reasons different at different pay grades or levels of seniority? Flexibility, perceived barriers to promotion and reward could all be factors that you may need to address. If you don’t currently capture this information, consider how you might best do so in a confidential way to get a clearer understanding.
What About the Future?
Some organisations will be ready to create and communicate a formal action plan now, and others may need to gain some confidence before doing so. Having an action plan that leaders of the organisation are bought into, and that other stakeholders have had input into, can have a huge impact upon the organisation as a whole and not just in relation to gender. It’s worthwhile being clear that an action plan will be evolving and will need monitoring, evaluating and revising as things progress, until you get to a stage where the activities have become part of your day to day processes and ways of working.
If you weren’t absolutely confident in your reporting last year and would like a straightforward overview for calculating and reporting your gender pay this time around, you can download a free copy of our guide below.