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Employers overwhelmingly believe that gender pay audits will be positive for business, according to a Workingmums.co.uk survey.
The survey showed 86% of employers were positive about the audits which come into effect in April for employers of 250 or more people and mean they will have to publish data regarding the gender pay gap in their organisation.
The approval rating rose to 90% of employers with over 1,000 employees and 100% of those with between 250 and 500 employees.
Support was high across the board, but in sectors such as engineering and banking it was at 93%.
The survey of 220 employers also showed an interesting split with regard to employers who considered they had a flexible culture: while only 14% of employers with between 500 and 1,000 employees felt they had a flexible culture, 61% of those with over 1,000 employees and 89% of those with under six employees did.
Most thought flexible working would increase in the next year, but employers varied in which forms of flexible working they anticipated being in most demand. While part-time working is still the most popular form of flexible working [46% of employers rated it the most popular], the majority think homeworking and flexi hours will be where most of the increase will come from. Interestingly, larger and smaller employers favoured homeworking while medium-sized businesses opted more for flexi hours.
Those employers who didn’t have a flexible culture blamed a range of factors from lack of trust, “archaic attitudes and managers’ concerns about creating precedents to managing workloads with staff working reduced hours, communicating policies to clients and managing expectations.
Most employers had seen an increase in groups other than mums and carers asking for flexible working, with men accounting for most of the rise – with the number of employers seeing an increase in requests from men rising from between 25% [employers with between 50 and 100 employees] to 75% in those with between 500 and 1,000 staff.
Just over four in 10 employers had initiatives to promote women’s career progression, recognising the need to create more diversity at all levels of their organisation. However, this ranged from 10% for employers with 50-100 employees to 63% of employers with over 1,000 employees. Mentoring was the most popular. However, although 65% of employers thought their initiatives for women were successful [72% of larger employers compared to just 20% of those with between 50 and 500 employees], only 24% measured their impact.
Other findings from the survey:
Most employers don’t enhance parental leave, but those who did were much more likely to enhance maternity pay than paternity pay or shared parental pay. Some 74% of employers with over 1,000 employees enhanced parental leave pay, with 89% of these enhancing maternity pay compared with 38% who enhanced SPP and 59% who enhanced paternity pay.
Between 40 and 44% of employers with over 100 employees promoted Shared Parental Leave internally and less than a third of employers with under 500 staff had had a case
44% had carer policies, with the largest employers much more likely to do so – some 59% did compared to between 40 and 44% of employers with between 100 and 500 employees
Employers were mainly positive about job shares [70% would consider them], even though just over a third have them now with larger employers more likely to have experience of a job share
63% have senior roles that are part time, but only a small number [less than 5%] of their senior executives work part time.
25% have a returner programme, but 30% who don’t are considering one
22% think Brexit will impact on their diversity initiatives – this ranged from 6% of employers with under five employees to 32% of those with over 1,000.
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: “We were interested to see how high the support for gender pay audits was, given the complexity of issues involved in determining the gender pay gap. I think employers understand that the new requirements are part of a positive push to keep those issues at the forefront of policymakers’ minds and we hope that employers will take the opportunity to contextualise their data in order that we can have an honest discussion about the barriers to greater workplace equality. We were also interested in the ongoing challenges to embedding flexible cultures and to see more requests for flexible working are coming from men. This will put greater pressure on those employers who are only responding in an ad hoc way to flexible working requests to take a step back and review their work culture. Making that change can be challenging and we are keen to spread good practice of those employers who overcome many of the hurdles along the road to normalising flexible working.”