Patrick Woodman: What can employers learn from the BBC’s pay gap?

Patrick Woodman

Revelations about the gender pay gap among the BBC’s leading broadcasters generated a huge amount of media discussion in July. But as many businesses are quietly realising, the reality is very similar for their employees, and transparency is headed their way too.

Research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR, published in August 2016, showed that the gender pay gap stands at 23% at management level, meaning women managers effectively work for free for nearly two hours a day. The National management salary survey shows that while women comprise 73% of the workforce in entry and junior level roles, just 32% of director level posts are being held by women. This results in the ‘missing middle’ of women in management. As it stands, the UK economy will need two million new managers by 2024, and 1.5 million will need to be women to achieve gender balance.

The BBC pay gap also highlighted that it, along with many other employers, has further to go on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) diversity. While 12.5% of the UK population are BAME, they hold just 6% of management positions. Yet our Delivering diversity research, published with the British Academy of Management (BAM) in July 2017, shows that only 54% of HR and diversity managers see their business leaders championing BAME diversity.

So why is diversity good for business? More diverse teams deliver better results. According to research from Credit Suisse, The CS gender 3000: the reward for change, published in September 2016, gender-diverse management teams deliver an 18% return-on-investment premium.

For both gender and BAME, we need to measure diversity throughout the talent pipeline, benchmark and collaborate to accelerate change, be inclusive, build diverse networks to tap into the power of sponsorship, build diversity through the management pipeline through ‘next up’ mentoring and, importantly, break the silence.

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What can we learn from the BBC? Transparency is a powerful lever for change. Public scrutiny and media criticism certainly focus senior leaders’ attention. Tony Hall, director general at the BBC, is now committed to closing the BBC’s gender pay gap by 2020. Transparency is the first step, then enabling targets to be set and practical actions to be taken. After all, what gets measured gets managed.

Patrick Woodman is head of research and advocacy at the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)