Dr Kara McGann
Head of Social Policy, Ibec
Gender pay gap reporting alone will not identify or solve the myriad of structural, cultural and policy causes of gender imbalance but it will focus attention on taking necessary action on the issues contributing to the gap.
The gender pay gap is an unusual calculation which rather than considering the job, working pattern, level in the organisation, competencies, qualifications or experience; simply, it compares the difference in average earnings of all men with the average earnings of all women. It does not indicate discrimination, or an absence of equal pay, but instead captures whether women are equally represented across an organisation.
Identifying deep-rooted issues
A gender pay gap is a point in time and the result of a range of decisions made in preceding years that led to here, decisions in the education system, in society and in organisations. Decisions such as whether certain subjects are available in same-sex schools, leading to early narrowing of career choices. It can include how society thinks about men, women and gender including the jobs they hold and the responsibility for caring.
While many of these decisions are outside employers’ control, there are coherent steps that can be taken to address the issues contributing to the gender pay gap in organisations.
A gender pay gap is a point in time and the result of a range of decisions made in preceding years that led to here, decisions in the education system, in society and in organisations.
- Overcome bias and embed gender-conscious recruitment processes.
Often, recruitment relies on networks, referrals and the same sources of talent which may place women at a disadvantage. The use of gender balanced long-lists from both internal and external recruiters alongside inclusive hiring training is essential for gender balanced outcomes.
- Address inequities in development and promotion.
Analyse development and stretch project opportunities to ensure parity and balanced pipelines. Provide broad network-building opportunities to ensure talent at all levels have access to the mentors and sponsors that support career development and progression.
- Ensure smooth on and off-ramping for women during maternity leave and return.
Successful transitions are encouraged by line manager training and individual coaching. Males should be encouraged to also take the relevant leaves available to support the use and acceptance of family leaves for all.
- Measure the actions.
Set timebound targets for gender balanced senior management and connect targets to the performance of leaders.
Businesses have a key role to play and are the only stakeholders who have to report on the gender pay gap, however, a concerted effort will be required by all stakeholders if we are really to address the true causes and achieve gender parity.