Written by Chris Rutter
Published on February 28, 2019

It’s that time of year again where the media shifts its focus towards scrutinising companies reporting their gender pay gaps. With the reporting deadlines for both public sector and private sector companies looming, we are certainly being inundated with requests from our clients to assist them in collating and presenting their gender pay gap figures.

The pay gap seems to be widening

The second year of reporting is particularly significant as it is the first time that companies have a benchmark to compare their figures to which gives an indication of not just what a company’s gender pay gap might be, but how their strategy to tackle their gender pay gap is progressing. The media was quick to lynch companies for reporting large gender pay gap figures last year and this year seems to be no different.

At the time of writing only 10% of employers have reported their 2018 figures and the BBC has been quick to highlight that 40% of private companies have reported wider gender pay gaps than they did last year > . This is quite a damning statistic but it worth noting that there could be perfectly rational explanations for this that doesn’t necessarily mean that employers are being more discriminatory towards women.

There’s no quick fix

A large gender pay gap typically suggests that women are clustered in more junior roles within an organisation. The process of cultivating this talent and helping women to progress is going to take a lot longer than 12 months. All this does is highlight that there is no quick fix to eradicating the gender pay gap. In fact, if an employer decided to employ more women into entry level positions as part of their strategy to look to the future, this would actually widen the gender pay gap in the short term. Also, should a large proportion of senior females decide to leave their employer, this will significantly widen a company’s gender pay gap which an employer doesn’t have much control over.

Beyond the stats

At present, employers only have an obligation to report their gender pay gap. There is no legal requirement to explain the figures, implement a long term strategy – nor are employers penalised for a lack of improvement. Until this is reviewed in 4 years’ time by the government, the gender pay gap legislation is, at best, only really good for a discussion.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has recently published 2 new pieces of guidance so assist employers with closing their gender pay gap. ‘Eight way to understand your gender pay gap’ is a very useful guide that highlights possible underlying reasons as to why employers are experiencing a gender pay gap. ‘GPG action plan’ is a 4-step guide on how to implement a strategy to eradicate the gender pay gap.

Those employers that are committed to understanding and implementing a strategy to address their gender pay gaps before it comes mandatory put themselves in a great position to get ahead of the game and achieve some really good results in the long term. The old saying “what gets measured gets managed” might not be true in the case of the gender pay gap – it should be “what gets strategised as a legal requirement gets managed”.

Dataplan provide a full Gender Pay Gap Reporting solution for both payroll and non-payroll customers. IF you would like to find out more about the options, contact Chris Rutter on 03331 122622 or submit a web enquiry