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The Pandora’s box of employee comms and Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Insight

03 April 2018

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With parity for females a hotter topic than ever before, the mainstream media is chomping at its equality bit as organisations press the upload button with trepidation.

When the government’s final deadline for organisations with 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gaps passes this week, many will breathe a sigh of task-completion relief. Deciphering the legislation, reviewing the data, drafting the report and making final amends will have taken priority in recent months.  Let’s not forget, however, that this is just the beginning for what must become an organisational communication priority for years to come.

The results are expected to show that men earn more than women in the UK. Although it’s no doubt newsworthy, I am not sure it is news. More interesting, perhaps, are the complex and overlapping reasons why this is the case and what organisations can, are and will be expected to do about it.

First and foremost, let’s not forget the importance of employee communication when it comes to Gender Pay Gap Reporting.

Here are my 5 top tips:

  1.             Remember that the report isn’t enough

The report itself is a piece of external communication that needs to be published on employers’ websites and a government site. Of course, we must expect employees to read it, but alone, it is not enough communication. Even organisations who choose to write a narrative on top of simply publishing the data sets required will need to consider what else employees and their managers need, not just now but over the coming months. 

  1.             Get managers on board early

Engaging managers before the report is published is ideal so that they can be clued up, at the very least, on the legislation itself but also on what questions they might get from their teams when the data is published and how to navigate them. This does require care because it’s not reasonable to expect managers to be the fountain of all HR knowledge but they should be informed enough to explain what gender pay gap reporting is and is not.  Helping managers to know what questions they need specialist advice about will also be crucial.

  1.             Explain what it is and isn’t

Employees need to understand how gender pay gap reporting differs from equal pay legislation. 2017 gender pay gap reporting legislation requires employers with at least 250 employees to publish statutory calculations every year showing the pay gap between their male and female employees as well as the proportion of men and women receiving bonuses. Gender pay gap reporting is different from equal pay which looks to ensure that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for the same job, similar jobs or work of equal value. Unequal pay for men and women has been unlawful for more than 40 years!

  1.             Explain the why and what’s next

I’ve encouraged all of my clients to develop a narrative that explains the gap. Many of the gaps stem from the proportion of females in the lower paid quartiles of an organisation and so explaining which factors lead to this, including broader societal or sector trends is vital. It’s also crucial to indicate what steps are being taken across the organisation to lessen the gaps such as revised attraction and recruitment strategies, D&I training initiatives and tailored leadership development programmes for under-represented groups.

  1.             Don’t wait until next April to communicate again!

This is not a one-off communication requirement so it would be a mistake to wait a year to update employees on progress with the steps being taken to lessen the gap which, for most organisations, will not be solved in a year anyway. Sharing news and insights from broader Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and keeping employees connected to them, for example, will make lessening the gap part of people’s everyday rather than an annual tick box exercise that’s met with increasing cynicism each year if heightened expectations are not met.

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