Elysia McCaffrey: Gender pay gap action plans are just as vital as the reporting data

Elysia McCaffrey

In the first year of reporting on the gender pay gap, the Government Equalities Office was encouraged to see compliance from more than 10,000 of those employers identified as being in scope of the regulations.

This means that every large organisation across the country has calculated the difference between what they pay men and women, with many having boardroom conversations about the cause of any existing inequalities.

However, this is only the first step towards tackling gender inequality in the workplace.

The reasons for the gender pay gap are varied, and sometimes complex, but many can be resolved by eradicating bias in the systems and processes within an organisation.

Many employers are already taking action to level the playing field and ensure that men and women have equal opportunity to progress.

The good news is that organisations do not need enormous HR departments or huge financial outlays to achieve this; many of the actions identified as being the most effective are low cost and easy to implement.

The Government Equalities Office has developed ‘what works guidance’, designed to help employers implement the most effective actions for mitigating gender pay gaps. This includes having multiple women on shortlists, ensuring that pay, progression and reward processes are transparent and using skills-based assessments at interviews.

The business case for closing the gender pay gap is clear. Not only is it morally right to take action on this burning injustice, but diverse businesses are proven to outperform their industry rivals; in fact, the Power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in the United Kingdom report, published by McKinsey Global Institute in September 2016, estimates that bridging gender gaps in employment could add £150 billion to the UK economy by 2025.

Employers should now be preparing to report ahead of the next deadline of 4 April 2019; publishing action plans alongside the reporting data will send a clear signal of commitment and leadership.

We know the gender pay gap will not close overnight, but with commitment from employers, and our support, we can make it happen.

Elysia McCaffrey is deputy director at the Government Equalities Office