The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has recommended that employers in the UK, Scotland and Wales offer all jobs, including the most senior positions, on a flexible and part-time basis to help employees retain skilled positions in the workplace.
The recommendation forms part of the Commission’s Fair opportunities for all: a strategy to reduce pay gaps in Britain report, which details proposals on how governments and employers can address gender, ethnicity and disability related pay gaps.
The reports features six key areas that it believes both employers and governments need to tackle in order to reduce pay gaps within businesses. These areas include addressing educational stereotypes to promote diversity across all school subjects; improving job opportunities to enable low-paid employees to access higher level roles no matter where they live; making jobs at all levels of seniority available on a more flexible basis; encouraging male and female employees to share childcare responsibilities and increasing access to affordable childcare; reducing prejudiced attitudes and bias that could influence recruitment, pay and promotion decisions; and increasing reporting requirements so that organisations have to report on ethnicity and disability pay gaps as well as the gender pay gap.
Particular actions directed at employers include voluntarily reporting their ethnicity and disability pay gaps, including publishing action plans on how they intend on closing any identified gaps. The reports further highlights that employers should use fair and transparent processes for senior and board-level appointments, work to tackle prejudice and bias in recruitment, performance, evaluation and reward decisions, and make sure that flexible ways of working are available for all employees from the first day that they begin work.
Alongside the Fair opportunities for all report, the EHRC has also published research into the gender, disability, and ethnicity pay gap, including Tackling gender, disability and ethnicity pay gaps: a progress review.
Caroline Waters, deputy chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We need new ideas to bring down pay gaps, it’s not just about more women at the top. Yes, female representation is important but tackling pay gaps is far more complicated than that. While there has been some progress, it has been painfully slow. We need radical change now otherwise we’ll be having the same conversation for decades to come.
“The pay gaps issue sits right at the heart of our society and is a symbol of the work we still need to do to achieve equality for all. Subject choices and stereotypes in education send children of all genders, abilities, and racial backgrounds on set paths. These stereotypes are then reinforced throughout the workplace in recruitment, pay and progression. For this to change, we need to overhaul our culture and make flexible working the norm; looking beyond women as the primary caregivers and having tough conversations about the biases that are rife in our workforce and society.
“The inequalities in pay for ethnic minority groups and disabled people also need to be talked about. We’re launching this strategy to kick start the change we need. This includes action to tackle inequalities across the board, including those who are trapped in low pay who often get missed from the headlines.”
Dr Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), added: “The EHRC’s recommendations on the changes needed to address pay gaps in Britain are timely for many businesses who are preparing to report on their gender pay gaps. We welcome the breadth of [its] new strategy, which looks at gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps, and agree a greater focus on flexible-working opportunities across the labour market would enable disadvantaged groups to both ‘get in’ and ‘get on’ in work.”