Years after the Equal Opportunities Act in the 70s there is still a gender pay gap.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the gap is at its narrowest since official records began in 1997, with men earning 9.4 per cent more than women, down from 10 per cent in 2013. In a report from the World Economic Forum, gender equality in workplaces across the globe is unlikely to be realised until 2095.
However, pay isn’t the only gap when it comes to gender. There has been much in the media about disparity between the sexes in most aspects of life, not just at work, and what women should do about it personally. For example, doing their research, knowing their own worth, and negotiating effectively. As HR professionals with powerful HR software at our fingertips, what can we do to help address the situation?
1. Tie pay to market value (less room for negotiation, at which women are notoriously poor)
HR needs to work with managers to understand and evaluate positions, to know the value to the organisation. Roles typically dominated either by male or female employees can be compared, looking at skills and complexity, ensuring parity between the two. Job offers should be based on market rate, rather than what the candidate previously earned. This reduces the risk that women will be penalised on salary based on previous inequalities.
2. Monitor promotions and pay rises to ensure they are bias-free
People of similar qualifications treated the same continuously from their time of appointment should progress equally, however some points to keep in mind when comparing progress.
Are they placed in jobs with similar pay and promotion opportunities, some jobs are better than others. Are they offered the same opportunities to increase skills that will ultimately lead to management. If in a sales role, do they have the same earning potential, ie. some patches are more lucrative than others, and do they have access to the same salary increments and bonuses.
3. Annual salary reviews to ensure they are in line with industry standards
Run a salary comparison survey each year to determine that packages have stayed equitable, and then compare to market rates, to ensure that the relative value to the organisation is in line. If any employees are out of sync you can adjust their salary accordingly, citing the research as the reason.
4. Monitor salary levels across departments to ensure parity
Encourage comparisons and discussions across departments within business units to ensure that pay is kept comparable across functions. Meetings between managers can be facilitated by HR, to discuss openly annual targets for pay scales, resulting in more realistic, achievable goals.
5. Promote transparency in remuneration packages
If you’ve nothing to hide, and keen to address any gender pay gap issues, then publish the salary range for each job/grade. You may even decide to go one step further and publish the criteria by which pay rises and bonuses are determined. This type of transparency enables staff to see where they sit within their pay grades, giving reassurance. However, if there are unfair anomalies these too will be highlighted, providing an opportunity to address the situation.
These are all quite tangible ways to monitor and address the gender gap and good HR software will help you achieve these. There is also an argument for doing more to place greater emphasis on the value of the unique qualities of men and women. Rather than focusing on fixing one gender and blaming the other, organisations should look to understand how each gender thinks and communicates and put effort into training, so that each better understands the other. Taking this approach will be far more effective long term than simply recruiting more women to meet quotas, for example.