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Four out of five companies yet to report their gender pay gap

7 Mar 2018 By Emily Burt

Majority of British employers reluctant to report, with one month to go until deadline

With less than a month to go until the government’s gender pay reporting deadline, more than four out of five employers are yet to report their gender pay data, the latest official figures show. 

Organisations with more than 250 employees must report their gender pay gap for the first time under measures introduced in April 2017. Public sector companies must report their data by 30 March, while organisations in the private sector have until 4 April. 

Of the government-estimated 9,000 eligible employers, just 1,620 (around 17 per cent) had reported by 11am today, a fifth of whom are thought to be in the public sector. An estimated two-thirds of FTSE 100 companies are yet to report on their data. 

Other reports have estimated the number of eligible employers at 13,500, which, if accurate, would reduce the number of reported employers to just over one in 10.

For many businesses, the delay in reporting could be down to a desire to do so accurately, CIPD performance and reward adviser Charles Cotton told People Management

“For most large employers, this is the first time that they have done anything like this and they want to get it right in terms of calculating the various pay gaps correctly, how they communicate the gaps to their employees, customers and investors, and the actions they commit themselves to to tackle these gaps,” he said. 

“Not surprisingly, this takes time and involves many stakeholders, such as HR, payroll, legal, media relations, marketing and design. 

“Hopefully, next year, employers will know what’s involved and the process should be a lot quicker. Other explanations are that many employers were planning to publish their gaps in March anyway, while there may be some who want to ‘hide’ their figures in the rush to publish.” 

A spokesperson from the Equality and Human Rights Commission told People Management that it would enforce non-compliance. “Employers with 250 or more staff still have a month to report their gender pay gaps. This is a legal requirement – it’s not optional and we will be fully enforcing against all companies that do not report,” they said. 

“We have mechanisms in place to identify questionable data and have the power to enforce against any employer whose published information doesn’t comply with the legal requirements.” 

Speaking to the Independent yesterday, treasury select committee chair Nicky Morgan accused large professional services firms of “taking advantage of an apparent loophole” in the reporting guidelines, by classing their top-earning partners as owners rather than employees, excluding them from the figures. 

Public sector employers have so far reported a median gender pay gap of 13.3 per cent, while private companies have reported an average of 7.3 per cent, with the national average for the gender pay gap estimated at 18.4 per cent for full-time and part-time workers. 

“Having a pay gap is not unlawful. There may be a range of factors behind pay gaps and businesses should see publishing their statistics as only the beginning,” the EHRC told People Management. “Action plans to tackle the reasons behind them are the key.” 

As the government works to address the causes of the gender pay gap, announcing a £1.5m fund to be invested in returnship projects, which may help women who have taken caring career breaks, research has highlighted surprising areas where gender gaps are exacerbated. 

Data published this week found that women who gain an MBA from a top international business school experience a larger pay gap post-qualification – earning an average of 9 per cent less than their male counterparts before undertaking an MBA, with the gap widening to 14 per cent after completion. 

If cultural workplace inequalities, such as a lack of clear diversity targets, or the social expectation of women taking on the bulk of caring responsibilities, can be overcome, women’s pay could increase by up to 64 per cent, an Accenture gender equality report surveying more than 22,000 working men and women across 30 countries revealed earlier this week. 

“Our research highlights the key role workplace culture plays in unlocking gender equality,” said Payal Vasudeva, executive sponsor for human capital and diversity at Accenture (UK and Ireland). 

“When you create a workplace environment that enables women to advance, everyone benefits – men and women. It also drives true inclusion, underpinned by diversity of thought, which is a source of innovation, creativity and competitive advantage for businesses.”

In a speech to the 30% Club in London last night, CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn urged firms to examine and constantly question their daily practices, taking action on gender equality, not just offering warm words.

“With four weeks to the deadline, employers of more than 250 people will be revealing what, on average, they pay men and women. This is a good thing because, for the first time, there will be proper measurement. And what you can measure, you can change,” she said. 

“When we asked our members how they were responding to gender pay gap reporting, nearly two in three said they would be taking more steps on diversity and inclusion as a result. We know this work is paying off, but just not fast enough. We need a real push for progress in 2018.”

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