What happens if your business’ gender pay gap increases?

Clare Parkinson, Pay and Reward Manager at Croner, explains how to deal with an increased gender pay gap.



This week, HSBC has been revealed as the UK’s most unequal bank as new figures showed that their gender pay gap has now grown to 61%. So what happens if other businesses gender pay gap increases?

The purpose of the gender pay gap report is to highlight the difference between overall earnings between male and female employees in the UK. As 2018’s findings showed that women take home, on average, 18% less than their male colleague’s employers should consider what actions they will need to take if their company’s gap has widened or if they failed to meet a previously set target to reduce it.

Publically displaying that the gap has increased may have a negative effect on female workers in the company who may wonder why, after last year’s initial findings were published, the Company has not only failed to improve the situation, but has in effect allowed it to deteriorate. If this is the case, employers should investigate why this could be and take steps to change things. One potential method is increasing pay transparency to outline how all male and female employees are being paid within the organisation and the reasoning behind this. Data collected could include salaries at recruitment, rates of promotion for both genders and the proportion of mothers returning to a company after they have given birth.

The company could also consider introducing more family friendly options to enable mothers to come to back to work after childbirth and avoid taking prolonged times out of their career. Options to explore include increased workplace flexibility, encouragement of the take-up of shared parental leave or making arrangements for discounted rates at local nurseries to assist with ongoing child care. Some sectors may struggle to attract a female workforce due to stereotypes about it maintaining a ‘lad culture’.  Employers can aim to counteract this by liaising with local schools or colleges to implement targeting campaigns aimed at young women. If they do currently employ female workers it could be that they need further support or guidance to progress, which could be provided through mentorship schemes or performance self-assessments that can help them not underestimate their abilities or potential.

Although employers are not legally obliged to have reduced the gap by April, it should be remembered that displaying a public rise in the difference in earnings between men and women may have a negative effect on the overall reputation of the company.

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