A recent webinar hosted by Sarah Hesz from childcare provider Bubble highlighted the role of data and increasing transparency in driving forward the equality agenda.
How do we close the gender pay gap? A webinar by flexible childcare organisation Bubble looked at how data can be better used to address the issue.
Zara Nanu, CEO and Founder of GapSquare, a pay analytics firm for inclusive employers, said that five years ago it was predicted that it would take 217 years to close the gender pay gap. The World Economic Forum now reckons it will take 260 years, with the gap having grown due to the pandemic. Yet by 2030 we will have the first people on Mars and the first self-driving cars. She said we have the data we need to tackle the gap and to make faster progress. We need to be more intelligent about how we use it to understand the reason for the gaps, she stated.
For Anthony Fitzpatrick, Head of Colleague Experience and Employment Policy at Aviva, it is more about having the right culture. He said employers need to show that when they talk about equality it is not just words and that they mean what they say. He added that once they have the right culture and vision they can ensure all their policies are joined up and moving in the right direction. When it comes to women’s career progression, for instance, Aviva’s backing of the Women in Finance Charter and support for the 30% Club are examples. “It is not just about a once a year report,” he said. “We need to ensure that society keeps moving forward and not take our eye off the ball. We need to build credibility.”
Aviva does not just set targets in its annual report, but it is transparent about how it is doing when it comes to meeting them and has linked its executive bonuses to progress on diversity and inclusion, said Fitzpatrick. Forty-two per cent of its board are now female and the CEO and senior managers are very committed to diversity and inclusion. People can see that its culture is lived in its policies and procedures, he added. That includes its equal parental leave policy which aims to remove some of the barriers to career progression for women. This is promoted through telling the stories of people who have taken the leave – men and women – with communications being key to progress. Fitzpatrick added that having a wider social impact fits with Aviva’s brand and its aims with regard to recruitment and retention. “We want to be part of the larger conversation on societal impact,” he stated.
Nanu said the Government is trying to push things forward through regulations requiring greater transparency, such as the gender pay audits. This links up with, for instance, the work of organisations such as Glassdoor where people disclose their wages. For employers equality needs to be not just about talent attraction and retention, but about fairness. Some businesses such as Buffer are continuing to innovate and push things forward by being totally transparent about the wages of all their employees. Buffer publishes every employee’s salary online. This is in large part driven by employee demand. If an employer’s gender pay gap is going backwards they want to know why. “Sometimes people are progressing faster than the Government,” said Nanu. Employers are also aware of supermarket equal pay cases and that the labour market is very much employee-driven at the moment.
She added that data is vital to drive diversity and inclusion forward because it removes the politics and emotion from the subject. Data will show where the greatest impact can be made, she said, adding: “The more data employers can get the better.”
Fitzpatrick said that sometimes smaller steps can make a big difference and signal that you are open to change. He thinks Covid will have moved things forward and encouraged other employers to take that first step and dip their toe in the water. Nanu added that the pandemic is an opportunity for a rethink on pay all round, including key workers’ pay, and should reflect output.