EXCLUSIVE: Employers must tackle gender pay gap reporting now

Employee Benefits Live 2017: Employers must start tackling their gender pay gap analysis now to avoid being swamped by voluminous data sets in the run up to the government’s April 2018 deadline.

Speaking at Employee Benefits Live 2017 in a session titled ‘Gender pay gap reporting: getting it right’, Stephen Ravenscroft (pictured), partner at law firm White and Case, said: “I always worry about the fact that people are leaving it late. In large organisations, it’s my experience that the data is voluminous and it takes a great deal of work just to gather it in the first place, and then understand it.”

Ravenscroft suggested that employers also work to put together a narrative to publish alongside their gender pay figures. “I would strongly recommend that [employers] prepare a narrative which explains the results. It’s not required; [employers] can actually just provide the data but everybody I have spoken to suggests that narrative is extremely important and it’s extremely important for current employees, future employees, other stakeholders and any other audience that is going to see that data, bearing in mind that data will be published on the government website,” he explained.

He further noted that some organisations will report beyond the scope of just gender, for example publishing ethnicity pay gap data, in order to gain a greater understanding of organisational pay differentiators.

Ravenscroft observed in his session how transparency around the gender pay gap and reporting requirements are, as a whole, gaining traction internationally, as countries such as Sweden and Germany have implemented reporting measures. However, Ravenscroft warns that employers should ensure to inform staff of any strategies to tackle diversity and gender pay gaps before publishing their data more widely, as this helps to keep employees engaged with the approach, and sets a more proactive and meaningful stance.

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He said: “It’s no good presenting it and saying ‘these are the things we’re going to do’. [Employers] really do need to have an action plan in place so that the action plan speaks to employees and people feel there is a genuine motivation in fixing the problems. So I think if [employers] get to March time, and [they’re] publishing and saying ‘this is what [we’re] going to do going forward’ and there hasn’t been any signs of that to date, there will be a problem with engagement.”

Ravenscroft additionally recommends that employers compile a group of employees, across HR, legal, payroll and benefits departments, to head up the gender pay gap reporting project. A senior leader within the organisation will also need to be involved as the data and any supporting narrative needs to be signed off by senior management.