Is your Gender Pay Gap report an engagement time bomb?

Date: 08/01/2018
Author: Mairi Probin
Company: Mairi Probin Employee Engagement Ltd

By Mairi Probin, Employee Engagement specialist

There has been a lot of talk about the gender pay gap and HR teams are busy fiddling about with their data to make sure they can meet the April deadline.

Whilst lots of time will be spent crunching the mean and median average pay, the average bonus pay as mean and median figures, who is receiving those bonus payments and the population by gender in each pay quartile, I wonder how many people are taking time to consider what is potentially a ticking time bomb for the engagement of women in businesses up and down the country… It is not new news that there is a gender pay gap. For many women, they will have long suspected that some of their male peers are paid more than they are… but until the reports come out, it has been just that, a suspicion…

When they come to see it in black and white, the challenges may start and it is a very real possibility that there will be a significant engagement impact on women throughout the workforce: ‘You pay me less so you value my input less and consequently I feel less valued.’

The fact so few companies have submitted their reports possibly points to a level of nervousness about the impact of seeing these numbers in print (or on screen!) I would suggest serious thought needs to be given to sharing the results of the pay gap reporting before it enters the public domain…

Why are the gaps there? What is causing the disparity? What are the plans to address it? What are the views of the management team about the gap? Make sure you know the answers to these questions and that your management team answer them consistently. Throughout your dialogue on this topic, keep referencing the broader context: The reporting is required in the first place because this gap is endemic, you are not the only business with one! It may be that you have a gap but it is smaller than the average - look at your comparators, the overall average, your sector average etc.

When communicating about this topic, think about the optics of who is doing the talking? A team of men talking about the gender pay gap may not support the message you want to get out! There will be some teams in your business where this is more problematic than others so work with those line managers to make sure they are ready for some potentially difficult conversations. And don’t spend your time trying to justify why the gap is there - focus on what you are going to do about it and closing it before you next report. There are implications for retention and recruitment:

We all know how much a departing employee can cost as well as the costs to replace them so this could have a real impact on your bottom line. This piece isn’t about what to do about your pay gap but a very wise person has talked to me about thinking a bit more laterally about solving it - do some people value time as much as money and therefore are there ways of approaching it that don’t cost money but reduce a person’s hours?

For some, this is not something they will need to give any thought to which is brilliant but for those who do, I would advise you to crack on - being on the front foot can only be a good thing! If you want to get in touch, find me on LinkedIn or at