The data is in from the government’s second year of running the mandatory gender pay gap reporting, and the results are, frankly, quite disheartening. Despite the mass reporting and education on the topic, the gender pay gap has barely budged, currently sitting at 9.6% compared to 9.7% last year. The data showed 78% of companies still had a median pay gap in favour of men.
The gender pay gap initiative, which makes it compulsory for employers with 250 or more employees to publish their figures comparing men and women’s average pay across the organisation, is supposed to help create a fairer workplace for both genders, however, this will only be achieved once all companies are active in making changes to narrow the gap.
Lack of movement in the data highlights the need for disruption in corporate culture, recruitment and training. This, of course, is not a quick fix and it may take some time before businesses see the gap close, but employers must start taking action now while also implementing long term plans.
This may be a daunting task for many, as research by YouGov on behalf of the charity Young Women’s Trust shows that one in every ten businesses does not understand how to go about reducing its gender pay gap. If you are struggling to figure out where to begin or want to know which are the best ways to start making a change in your company, here’s my advice.
Appoint diversity managers
Having a person or team solely responsible for manging the diversity within a business will ensure that all decisions made are in-line with the company’s goal of creating a more equal workplace. This person can question hiring decisions, where unconscious bias may have slipped through, inevitably ensuring every candidate has a fair chance. This accountability can improve the representation of women in your organisation and also reinforce a diverse and inclusive culture.
Hire on ability and use skill-based assessment tasks in recruitment
Historically, many businesses have hired on a base of experience. However, this opens women up to discrimination, as mothers often have to take time off to raise children or take on caring positions. This means men have a higher chance of climbing the corporate ladder and gaining richer work experience. However, hiring solely on ability and on the premises of whether a person can get the job done efficiently, will help create a more level playing field. Skill-based assessments tasks can be carried out as an alternative to questions regarding experience.
Improve workplace flexibility for men and women
Boosting the number of flexible and part-time positions will also help draw in and retain more female workers. According to ONS, women on average spend 60 per cent more time on unpaid work than men, making flexible working extremely attractive. Returning back to work from maternity leave can be daunting, and many women may not want to sacrifice their family and personal time for a full-time job, or perhaps may not have the means for child care. Flexible working throughout the hierarchy would mean women would not have to sacrifice this and will feel more comfortable taking on senior roles and accepting promotions. Having flexible working advertised and encouraged will make women and men who need the offer feel much more welcomed in the company.
Ban the ‘current salary’ question in interviews
“What was your last salary?” is a question asked by almost half (47 per cent) of employers during job interviews. This question may seem innocent, but in fact, it assists in perpetuating low pay rather than compensating women for their worth. Basing salary on previous figures disadvantages those who are already paid too low. Asking this question is already banned in several states in the US including New York, California and Massachusetts.
As I mentioned above, closing the gender pay gap is not an overnight job and will take careful, strategic planning to overcome. But by taking a careful look at how we recruit, we can ensure that we are on the right path to creating a fair, balanced system for all.