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Will your gender pay gap report help or hinder your employer brand?

By 4 April 2019 all companies with more than 250 employees must publish their gender pay gap report. We look at how the report provides an opportunity to tell a story about who you are and how you value your employees and potential recruits.

There is something incredibly revealing about a company reporting their gender pay gap. It seems to expose so much more than inequality in pay. It exposes a deeper truth about how an organisation views their people, their life at work, and whether they truly believe that equality can be a good thing for the organisation.

2019 is the second year of compulsory gender pay gap reporting. By 4 April 2019 all companies with more than 250 employees must publish their gender pay gap report. The gender pay gap is simply the difference in average hourly wage of all men and all women across a workforce. Typically, larger gender pay gaps appear when women do more of the less-well paid jobs in an organisation than men.

The gender pay gap is not about unequal pay, which is paying men and women differently for doing the same, or similar, work. That’s been against the law since 1970.

2019 will be the second year of mandatory reporting. I’ve researched reports from 2018 and what I have found puts me in mind of the early days of CSR. Some organisations are doing it brilliantly and are using the mandated reporting as an opportunity to address inequality between men and women (only 78% of companies pay men more than women; in 22% of companies, women earn more than men). Whether this is career and development opportunities, addressing unconscious bias in hiring and promotion, improved flexibility – these organisations are embracing the reporting requirement and using it to set out their stall as an employer and what they will do to address the many different factors behind inequality.

Some organisations have truly shameful gender pay gaps, and seem to take the view that least said, soonest mended. Which, of course, is the exact opposite of what could start to shift the gender pay gap, which is to start talking about it, taking it seriously, and putting in place plans to address it.

Other organisations have rather shameful pay gaps and take the opportunity to really delve into the reasons behind it. And to explore what the organisation is doing to address it. These companies come out of this well. There is inequality between what men and women are paid, and the jobs men and women do, and the level at which they do them, but they are talking about it, addressing it and they seemingly want to change this.

And then there are the stellar performers. Wolseley UK, for example. Not only is their gender pay gap tiny (comparatively): women earn a mean* of 4.16% less than men and median** of 1.78% less. The median UK gender pay gap is 18.4% (median). Importantly – their reporting is rigorous and robust and leaves no stone unturned. Have a read: it’s a masterclass.

What’s important isn’t the gender pay gap itself

What becomes important is the report, and a report done well. It’s like that customer service adage – it’s not about when things go wrong, it’s about how you fix it. The gender pay gap report tells you more about the organisation than the simple statistics can.

For the companies that say nothing, or bury the report within corporate pages, you’re missing a trick. The gender pay gap report can be an opportunity to tell potential talent what you want them to know about who you are, how you value your people – all your people – and what you are doing to drive equality throughout your workforce. Even if you’re not there yet.

With the deadline for 2019 looming, don’t delay. Take the opportunity to tell a story about who you are and how you value your employees and potential recruits. Because the alternative isn’t very appealing at all.

*Mean: The average in the way most people understand by ‘average’. You add up all the pay for men and divide by the number of men. Do the same for women.

**Median: The midpoint. The BBC’s definition of this is great: “If you line up all the men and women working at a company in two separate lines in order of salary, the median pay gap will be the difference in salary between the woman in the middle of her line and the man in the middle of his.”

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