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The gender pay gap in the recruitment sector

Zoe Morris, president of Frank Recruitment Group

Gender disparity is not a new issue faced by businesses. A problem deeply ingrained in every sector, it's time for organisations to step up to the plate and find a positive solution to the cause, not simply fire-fight the symptoms.

Detailing the differences between the hourly earnings of men and women across a workforce, Government-ordered pay equality reporting, which is now compulsory for businesses with more than 250 employees, provides an irrefutable reminder of the underpaying, underrepresentation, and underemployment of women in the UK workplace.

The gender pay gap is complicated, and certainly exacerbated by the fact that the majority of high-paying, high-powered roles in businesses tend to be held by men.

Not only is a lack of pay equity patently unfair and bad for retention of talent, it can even prevent businesses attracting great employees in the first place—61% of women take a company’s gender pay gap figures into account before submitting job applications.

But with research from the Government Equalities Office showing that seven in 10 businesses view closing the gender pay gap as their top priority, we’re beginning to see a proactive approach towards removing the issue.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a more inclusive workplace. The best way to confront the issue needs to be discerned on a case-by-case basis, as different sectors will require different solutions.

However, in recruitment, we have the chance to make big changes on two fronts, launching a two-pronged approach to tackling the issue both in our own organisations and helping our clients to develop and implement inclusive and unbiased hiring strategies.

Across the recruitment industry the gender pay gap is reported as significantly lower than other sectors. And with Victoria Atkins, Minister for Women, also identifying the gender pay is at the lowest level on record in all industries, we are beginning to see positive headway.

There is still a long way to go before complete workplace equality. Employers need to understand why the gender pay gap exists, build an action plan, and start taking the necessary steps to close the gap for good.

Start at the top; directors and board members have a strong influence on the culture running through a business. It’s important to have women in visible leadership roles, so that they can act as role models for younger people aspiring to the same position.

You can bridge the gap by rethinking your hiring strategy and improving recruitment practices. Create job adverts that are female-friendly and include terms such as flexible working. Put a package in place that offers women the extra support they need through the different stages of their careers. Identify the areas in your business where women hit a ceiling in terms of progression and introduce new practices to help them smash through it. Include more women on shortlists for external recruitment opportunities or if you’re looking to promote people in-house.

You’ll also need to be completely transparent about the promotion ladder within your business, and are familiar with the goals they’re expected to achieve, and how decisions are made. Having this level of transparency means every staff member, regardless of gender, knows the policies and criteria used in the final decision-making process, offering a completely objective playing field with zero bias.

For the gender pay gap to be removed, you'll need to remain proactive, step up, and commit to resolving the pay discrepancies you’ve identified. So join the fight and help build an equally balanced workforce for all. 

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