Action on gender pay gap ‘more urgent than ever’

Gender pay gap reporting resumes this October. New insights from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) suggests the restart can’t come soon enough.

Image of imbalanced scales
With mandatory gender pay reporting coming back into force on 4th October after its suspension during the pandemic, fears remain that action to reduce gender pay gaps could be de-prioritised by businesses.In the past 18 months, much evidence points to women being disproportionately disadvantaged during the pandemic. According to data collated by the House of Commons, women are more likely to be in sectors shut down by Covid-19, more likely to have lost their job or been furloughed and are taking on the majority of housework and childcare.

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Women’s prospects disproportionately affected by Covid-19

"As businesses scrambled to adapt to the impact of the pandemic, the suspension of gender pay gap reporting may have been understandable, but the evidence is now clear that women's earnings and career prospects have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19,” commented Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute.“Right now, there has never been a more urgent time for awareness of the gender pay gap to be put back front and centre of policy making.”The CMI’s CEO also raises concerns of a new two-tier workforce post-Covid-19, with women left out of decision-making. “With the widespread move to more flexible working, this could provide more opportunities for women,” continued Ann Franke. “But there are also real risks of women being left out of decision making and a reduction in the support that helps women progress their career. “Now that the economic ship is being steadied, it would be a stain on our national conscience to allow a two-tier workforce to emerge in the UK. As we emerge from the pandemic, managers and leaders are faced with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build back better and more inclusively, but progress on the gender pay gap is at real risk of being taken for granted.”

New gender pay gap guidance

The Chartered Management Institute has just published new gender pay gap guidance for UK businesses in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The new toolkit provides real-life case studies from business leaders, alongside a list of evidence-based actions to help employers take practical steps to address gender equality.“With the deadline for gender pay gap reporting fast approaching, employers should look beyond the numbers and start considering what action they are going to take to close their pay gaps,” said Suzanne Baxter, EHRC Commissioner.“This is more important than ever. The pandemic has had specific effects on women in the workplace and if we want to continue the progress that has been made towards workplace equality, then action to address the causes of pay gaps needs to be a key priority.”  The guidance includes advice to anonymise CVs and application forms, provide diversity targets to recruitment consultants, and actively promote shared parental leave and flexible working from day one in job advertisements, as well as recommended actions and resources from the EHRC, the body responsible for enforcing equality laws in Great Britain. “Working alongside the EHRC, this new guidance is a significant step forward in outlining the practical steps businesses need to take to directly address the gender pay gap within their organisation,” said Ann Franke.

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