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Don't let your 'actions to close the gender pay gap' fall flat

Posted by Hazel Lush on 03-Aug-2018 10:52:53

We were excited to see that the UK Government has released  'Actions to close the gender pay gap', a toolkit of key ideas on how you can take on the pay gap and work to close it.  The actions are things such as 'Include multiple women in shortlists for recruitment and promotions' and 'Introduce transparency to promotion, pay and reward processes', which are, in our view, some brilliant ideas for moving forward on the pay gap and for the wellbeing and retention of your staff as a whole. 

However, we also wanted to draw your attention to the following statement in the toolkit:  

"Employers who use high quality data to understand the drivers of their gender pay gap will be able to target their actions and therefore deliver the most effective results."

Our VP, Sian Webb puts it as follows: "A blanket approach to closing the gender pay gap, whilst it has its benefits and reveals some of the important actions companies must take to improve workplaces across the board, misses the importance of tailored, appropriate approaches to the gap. It is, as the government toolkit mentions, important to understand your data before you start investing heavily in actions that are not appropriate or helpful to your employees, and which won't close the gap. Companies could potentially be wasting a lot of time and money, and having no impact whatsoever'.

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We want to ask employers, before they engage on a blanket upheaval of work they have already done, to ask one question:

How are you measuring impact of the work you are planning to implement, and the work you have done so far? 

At Gapsquare, we're experts in making sure you take a targeted specific strategic approach to closing the gap, and that you are monitoring actions to see how they are impacting the gender pay gap. It's time to take data-driven decisions, rather than assume something is going to, somehow, make a difference. 

To give an example, we recently had a client investing money into one aspect of their recruitment that, they believed, may have been causing their gender pay gap, but after some time they discovered that there was no change to the pay gap at all. They then worked with us, used our software to understand that the main driver of the gap wasn't, in fact, recruitment. By constantly reviewing the direction of change to their gender pay gap, they realised they had, indeed, been wasting money. In their case, they should have been looking at progression, as much or even more than they were looking at recruitment. They have since implemented policies that have visibly improved their pay gap, and saved themselves a lot of money. They have also seen higher productivity levels amongst their staff, as they are performing at or above their previous skill level, rather than below, and improvements to staff engagement with the company, which ultimately resulted in a higher retention of staff overall.

Another way to look at this is that, yes, you could have an incredible flexible working policy, but is it being used? And if it is being used, who is using it? Women are often found to take up such policies at a greater rate than men and this can come down to how you promote them. Companies who poorly communicate brilliant policies often don't actually see the benefits. In this case, it's often time to take a look about the culture you're building around your employee structures and support schemes.

Our VP Sian has had direct experience of seeing this take place and has this advice:

"It can sometimes be about making sure that you have buy in from the top. If you see your male CEO take over and above his statutory two weeks' paternity leave, and then coming back, working part time so that he can spend time with his family, you'll start to see that filtering down across the workforce ecosystem. And, likewise, if you encourage middle managers to support their teams with flexible working and shared parental leave, the impact on your company culture will be palpable and your policies may just take root."


Another great example of this was a company which gave two hours of flexi-time to employees, allowing individual employees to 'give' flexitime to their workmates, by offering to cover for you so that, say, you could go to your son's violin recital, go to a one-off yoga class, or catch the emergency fridge delivery you've got coming up at the most inconvenient moment. Not only did this breed a culture of generosity and team work, it dispersed flexible working policies to all staff members. That, was an effective policy! 

It's really important then, when you look at the government toolkit of 'effective actions' (see below), that you ensure that you're investing in actions that have real, tangible impact for your employees, because not only is that how you close the pay gap, it's how we build the workplaces of the future.  

Check out the toolkit


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Want to have an informal discussion about the best techniques for your company or organisation to use to close the pay gap? Arrange a 30 minute meeting with Sian today. 

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Tags: Actions to close the gap, Government Recommendations for Closing the Gap