Gender pay audits: employer action needed now, says CIPD

Ahead of a possible April 2017 start date for mandatory gender pay reporting in the UK, a CIPD survey revealed only one in three organisations in its sample conduct any pay analysis by gender.

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The professional body for HR and people development’s study of 1,000 employers and HR professionals also found minimal activity among employers to increase take-up ahead of the planned April 2017 introduction.The survey, which informed the CIPD’s response to the government’s consultation on the draft regulations, reported just 28 per cent of employers overall, and 34 per cent at larger organisations (defined as employing 250 or more employees), conduct any analysis of men and women's pay differentials.The CIPD’s survey findings were published as the UK government closed its consultation on improving transparency around gender pay on 11 March. During the month-long consultation period, the results of which will be published in the summer, the government asked for responses on its key proposals. These include mandatory gender pay gap reporting that will require employers of 250 or more employees to publish their overall mean and median gender pay gaps each April from 2017.Currently, only 7 per cent of large organisations not currrently measuring gender pay differentials have plans to conduct this analysis in the next 12 months. By contrast, 47 per cent say they won’t and 46 per cent that they don’t know.These findings, the CIPD believes, reflect uncertainty among employers over the timeframe for the mandatory gender pay reporting regulations' implementation.Dianah Worman, diversity adviser for CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, commented both on the study's findings and the government's proposals. “The survey findings demonstrate the need for employers to act expeditiously to be able to deliver what will be expected of them, or risk damaging their public reputations as progressive employers of female talent and undermine their competiveness in attracting and retaining it.“Overall, the CIPD believes the government proposals on the regulations – which are based on extensive consultations – are on the right track. We welcome the additional focus on publishing information on the bonus gap and quartile salary bands, which will give more detailed insights to employers on where and how pronounced gender pay differentials exist and what needs to be done to address them."However, we're not convinced that the proposals to publish pay gap league tables across economic sectors will be helpful in levering systemic change. While at first sight they might appear to be a useful sanction, they could have the unintended consequence of compromising greater transparency and be subject to misinterpretation of commitment to change if not especially if they are not set in context.“To stimulate employers to act willingly, it is vital to raise awareness about the reasons why addressing the gender pay gap makes good business sense and the good practice that can be adopted to put things right."This calls for a clear and well-evidenced communication strategy and simple, accessible guidance. This should cover how to prepare a narrative report explaining pay gap information and help employers to understand the basis of their gender pay gap and the kind of practical measures they can take to close it."Shedding further light perhaps on the low take-up of gender analysis, the survey also found relatively limited and ad-hoc approaches in the last two years to promoting equal opportunities for men and women among respondents.Improving the range of flexible working opportunities (26% all employers; 34% large employers), greater use of mentoring to help women progress to the most senior levels in the business (13% all employers; 19% large employers) and improving the childcare package they offer staff (10% all employers; 14% of large employers) are among the most common approaches to improving equal opportunities exercised in the last two years.Worman concluded, “Employers need to focus on reviewing people management and development policies and working practices to ensure they are inclusive and bias–free.”
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