Six steps you can take to close your gender pay gap



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4 mins


The Government Equalities Office has released new guidance to help employers close their gender pay gaps

Four months on from the first gender pay gap reporting deadline, MPs are calling for the reporting requirements to be extended to all UK companies with more than 50 employees. As we wait to see if the recommendation becomes regulation, the Government Equalities Office has released new evidence-based guidance to help employers close their gender pay gaps. The guidance includes three categories of intervention: effective actions; promising actions; and actions with mixed results.

Six effective actions for closing gender pay gaps

1. Include more than one woman in recruitment and promotion shortlists

Evidence has shown that shortlists which include only one woman do not increase the chance of a woman being selected for a role or promotion, says the advice. Bans on male-only shortlists have gained traction in recent months; accountancy firm PwC announced in June 2018 that it was banning all-male shortlists for all its UK roles as part of its efforts to close its gender pay gap, which stands at 43.8% in favour of men.

2. Use skills-based assessment tasks in recruitment processes

Asking candidates to carry out tests of tasks they would be expected to perform in the role they are applying for helps to ensure a fairer assessment of their suitability.

3. Use structured interviews

Bias is more likely to play a factor in unstructured interviews, so be sure to use structured interviews where possible. Candidates should be asked the same questions in the same order and format, and their responses graded using pre-specific, standardised criteria.

4. Show salary ranges

Research has shown that women are less likely to negotiate their salary than men; being clear about the salary range, and whether or not it is negotiable, will encourage women to negotiate salaries that more closely match the salaries of men.

5. Make your reward process more transparent

The guidance recommends employers be more clearly about the process, policies and decision-making around promotion, pay and reward. This transparency helps employees understand what is happening, and line managers understand that their decisions need to be evidence-based and objective.

6. Appoint diversity managers or task forces

The presence of equality and diversity in the workplace managers and tasks forces helps to reduce bias because decision-makers know their decisions may be reviewed at any time. The government recommends that diversity managers hold a senior role in the organisation, and be empowered to implement relevant strategies and policies.

Actions that ‘show promise’

The Government Equalities Office identified six interventions they believe ‘show promise’, but say that more research into their effectiveness is required. These are:

  1. Improving the availability of flexible working, for both men and women – particularly at senior levels
  2. Encouraging the uptake of shared parental leave, and offering enhanced shared parental leave pay at the same level as enhanced maternity pay
  3. Recruiting people who have taken extended carer breaks
  4. Offering mentoring and sponsorship programmes
  5. Offering networking programmes
  6. Setting internal targets for gender equality

Less effective actions

Finally, the guidance assesses five interventions that have so far been shown to have both positive and negative effects on gender pay gaps, and therefore cannot be generally recommended to all organisations. These are:

  1. Unconscious bias training – “there is currently no evidence that this training changes behaviour or improves workplace equality”
  2. Diversity training – “it can help raise awareness but is unlikely to change behaviour”
  3. Leadership development training – “there is currently no high-quality evidence that such programmes help women progress”
  4. Performance self-assessments – “we do not have enough evidence to know how differences in self-assessment affect women’s progression at work”
  5. Diverse selection panels – “more research is needed to understand the conditions under which a diverse selection panel is or isn’t effective for improving gender equality”

The full guidance from the Government Equalities Office is available here.

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