Gender Pay Gap: the report is out

Since April 2017 UK companies employing 250 staff or more have known that they must report on their Gender Pay Gap (‘GPG’).  That deadline was yesterday, 4 April 2018.

What is it?

Whilst most people cannot fail to have seen it reported in the press, those not required to report may have misunderstood what is being reported here.  The GPG is not about pay unequal pay, it has long been the law that men and women doing the same job should be paid the same.  The GPG looks at the median difference, which is the level of pay that separates the top half of the earners from the lower half.  Whilst this measure has been criticised, it does provide an easy way to identify whether men or woman populate the upper and lower half of the pay scale respectively. 

What has reporting shown? 

The papers are awash with statistics and reports. The BBC have reported this morning that the figures indicate that 78% of companies pay men more than women on average, whilst only 14% pay women more.  Individual companies are of course being named and shamed and no doubt as the reports are digested, the news will continue roll out.  

The BBC itself has been an easy target for other news companies in the recent past, as much loved television stars’ salaries have been reported in the press (including the revelation that Prince Philip earns more than the Queen – a reference of course to the BBC drama The Crown and its leading stars), and wages have been openly slashed for senior staff in the news and current affairs department to reduce the gap ahead of their report.  Companies have been getting their houses in order and this is arguably more important than the report itself – this is legislation having its desired effect, though perhaps at the expense of some senior male staff who did nothing but work hard and earn their place at the top? Whilst the principles of reducing the GPG may be welcomed by many, there is a potential risk that the reporting duties could lead to resentment of women in the business context who may be perceived to have caused it.

What happens next?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have the ability to prosecute those that have not reported and they indicate that there are around 1,500 companies in this position. The EHRC have advised that the process of pursuing, investigating and enforcing against these companies will be a very public affair.  The Courts have the ability to fine those that do not comply to an unlimited level.

The EHRC have however been quick the reinforce that the important issue here is not the report itself but what companies will do to address the pay gap.  Companies will need to look carefully at their flexible working policy, not just with existing staff but when preparing job advertisements where inclusion of these two small words may encourage a female applicant to come forward.  Managers must take the lead in changing a culture of male leaders in big businesses by encouraging and supporting women to progress, continue with training and push themselves forward.  

GPG Reporting is not about simply paying women more and men less. It is about balancing the books in terms of male and female leaders for our future generations.  The world is changing, and businesses must change with it.  

Deborah Sutton
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