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Acting on the gender pay gap with early reporting creates real change

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It may be a few months away, but businesses acting on the gender pay gap with early reporting of their results can gain real advantage when it comes to communicating the results.

“Ultimately, gender pay gap reporting isn’t about compliance and ticking a box and reporting some figures to the public. It’s about creating change.” So says leading equal pay expert Zara Nanu.

She adds: “Closing the gender pay gap is a whole mountain to shift.”

So just how can progressive organisations start to shift that mountain? Simple: by reporting those figures early.

There is plenty to be gained if we can ‘shift that mountain’.

An OEC and McKinsey study suggests that the global economy would be given a US$12tn boost if we could close that gap. So there are real rewards for everybody if only we can deliver.

Acting on the gender pay gap is key for change

Yes, it starts with the reporting, but what really matters is recognising the gap, its consequences and causes, and taking very visible steps to show your employees that you both understand its impact and are prepared to take action.

At the same time, failing to address the gap can have consequences. These go beyond fines of failure to comply with the letter of the law.

As Birmingham City Council has discovered, failure to address equal pay (a not unrelated issue and one which has a significant impact on pay gaps) can result in catastrophic damage: in this case bankruptcy due to having to find the sums needed to put things right.

That’s before you take account of the reputational damage.

If this is a worry for your organisation, it’s possible to carry out an equal pay audit.

Causes and consequences of the gender pay gap

Equally, we know that diverse, inclusive businesses outperform those who are less diverse.

We also know that the struggle to find top talent globally has never been tougher.

Therefore being able to demonstrate real commitment to diversity and inclusion is vitally important to attract the best.

As Nanu points out: “Companies that look at their numbers ahead of time, and communicate them more openly with their workforce, become a magnet for diverse top talent in the world.”

With the statutory reporting period upon us there is an opportunity here to get ahead.

By reporting sooner, progressive organisations can start a dialogue with employees about the gap, and demonstrate that they are a business which is doing more than ticking boxes.

Yes, the issues are tricky.

Things like the motherhood penalty. Women leave employment, however temporarily, to start a family.

When they return to work (if they return to work) it’s often to part-time roles or job sharing. This has a huge impact on their lifetime earnings compared to men.

Occupational segregation also plays its part. In many sectors, such as IT and finance, men occupy far more of the senior roles and therefore create a gender pay imbalance between the sexes.

Knowing the exact impact of issues such as theses within your own organisation is the key to starting to address them. But you have to have the facts and figures before you can act.

Closing the gender pay gap starts with understanding why it exists

Because it’s all very well recognising the wider issues, what you really need to be able to do is analyse your data and, by understanding how this impacts your own business, start to devise strategies to address those issues.

You can’t do anything until you have the tools to be able to engage with what’s going on, report that to the wider workforce and then communicate just what it means for your employees.

This is where products like Gapsquare (from XpertHR) come into their own.

It enables you to feed in your own data and analyse this quickly and accurately.

You can then not only meet the statutory requirements of the gender pay gap reporting but you can do a lot, lot more.

By using the right tool, you not only make the reporting job much more streamlined and efficient but you gain the opportunity to set yourself ahead of the competition by presenting your own analysis of the gap, its impacts and reasons and, most importantly, what you intend to do, what changes you are actively making to ensure that you close that gap and keep it closed.

The mountain is still there to be climbed. But by taking these vital first steps you are ensuring that you are one of the progressive organisations committed to progress, and to one day closing the gender pay gap for ever.

In 2016 British women earned in average 14% less than men in similar roles. Has this changed since?