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The Gender Pay Gap: what is being done to end it?

Category: Interview

What are you doing to end the Gender Pay Gap?

“It’s good to be having uncomfortable conversations.” This was just one of the many nuggets of advice shared at a recent event looking at issues around the gender pay gap.

The Governments May 2018 deadline is looming for businesses with over 250 employees to submit information on their gender pay gap. Currently only 260 out of a possible 9000 businesses have submitted this information.

So, what awkward conversations should you be having at work? What can you do to make a difference?

We recently joined forces with Everywoman, a membership organisation dedicated to advancing women in business, to host the Gender Pay Gap Breakfast Briefing. The event focused on what people and businesses could do once they knew the numbers around gender pay gap in their organisations. We also launched our online campaign #endthepaygap.

What is the Gender Pay Gap?

The gender pay gap looks at the difference between men and women’s earning.  Currently for every £1 a man earns; a woman earns less than 82p. The national average gender pay gap which is 18.4% means every year women stop earning at the end of October each year. Women working in full-time positions have a smaller pay gap than those working part-time or in zero-hours contracts.

It’s an evocative subject, as the recent media headlines showed following the fallout from the BBC, after it published details of its top talent’s pay. The government have said they won’t be publishing a league table, but as Helen Reardon-Bond OBE, expert on diversity and equality, told the audience, that doesn’t mean that journalists aren’t poised over their keyboards ready to create them. So, what can you do to stop the headlines and make a difference?

Gender Pay Gap - A great opportunity for change

It won’t be a huge surprise that all businesses will have a gender pay gap, some very high. Helen explained that the difference will be how they handle it. What actions will they put in place? Although the Gender Pay Gap is smaller than it’s ever been, it’s still a huge issue. But with it comes the potential to make great changes in gender equality.  

The new Government policy and deadline has helped focus minds in UK board rooms. The gender pay gap is being discussed at the highest levels, which wasn’t the norm in the past.

What motivated some businesses to release their figures early?

On the panel during discussions were representative from two brave businesses, who have already submitted their gender pay gap information. Meghan Horsburgh, Head of Diversity and Inclusion from Sodexo, Lisa White, Head of HR at Lendlease, and Dr. Miranda Brawn, Director of Legal and Transaction Management and Founder of the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation, they told the audience about their experiences and offered them advice.

Top tips for businesses who need to report their Gender Pay Gap

What followed was a frank discussion about the process for each of them. What was clear was for everyone is that communication was key to success, both internally and externally. Here’s a flavour of what was said:

  • Make sure everyone in your organisation understands what the gender pay gap is. Often it is confused with issues around Equal Pay – which was made illegal in 2010.
  • You need to keep explanations as simply as possible. Of course, some more senior leaders will need a more in-depth briefing, but for the most part keep the messages clear and simple.
  • Before publishing any data talk to all your employees from directors to shop floor workers about what the gender pay gap means in your company. Very importantly, make sure they understand what you plan to do about it.

You can’t always control the headlines. Take time to think carefully about how you will get your message out.  Be clear about how you are going positively tackle the gender pay gap in your company.

What can you do to end the Gender Pay Gap?

Our founder Morgan Lobb asked the audience to sign up to a pledge and help us #endthepaygap. Many women are still trapped in cycles of poverty or stopped from reaching their full potential. He described his own mother’s journey, out of a council estate as a single mother to becoming a successful business woman. Morgan talked about her being the inspiration for VERCIDA and his motivation for ending the gender pay gap.

Morgan said people could help the campaign by sharing their experiences or tips to promote pay equality or by taking part in video blogs. If everyone in the room did just one thing, he explained, that would be 50 different ways of challenging the gender pay gap.

How many of you think a CEO is a man’s role?

Closing the event was Dr. Miranda Brawn, the first woman of colour on the trading floor in the 1990s, and a board member at VERCIDA.  She highlighted the importance of other recognising other diversity pay gaps, not just gender. For instance, black women often fall at the very bottom of the spectrum when it comes to pay.

Organisations have a huge role to play in ending the pay gap, but as Miranda said it can’t be just left down to them.

At a recent event for 4-10 year- olds she asked, ‘How many of you think that the role CEO is a man’s job?’ 98% of the children put their hand up. Then were visibly shocked when Miranda said it could be a man or a woman.

“This goes to show we can’t just start the gender pay gap discussion at the organisational level. This starts at the educational level. This starts in the homes. This starts within society and with government. It starts in the media. What we are feeding the next generation? All of this will help us close the gap.”

To move forward, we need to be having some awkward conversations about why there is a gender pay gap and what we are prepared to do about it.

To help end the pay gap…

If you would like to help take part in the VERCIDA campaign either by submitting vlog or interview, please contact catherine@vercida.com. We are interested in talking to everyone that shares our passion for change, not just the organisations we work with.

Everywoman are running a Gender Pay Gap programme to support businesses to take positive action to close the gender pay gap. For more information or to join their network visit their website.

VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email info@vercida.com for more information.

We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.

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London-based tech start-up VERCIDA launched in June 2017 (formerly Diversity Jobs). VERCIDA is a tech platform aimed at jobseekers looking to work for employers that place diversity, inclusion and well-being at the top of the agenda. The s...

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