Brit firms give up on reporting gender pay gap
The fight for gender equality in the workplace has been thwarted by the global pandemic, with the number of UK companies reporting data about their gender pay gap falling drastically.
A report by the CIPD reveals that the number of employers who have reported data about their gender pay gap has fallen by four-fifths since 2018. In 2018, 10,833 organisations published their numbers, but this fell to 2,440 for 2020.
In 2017 it became mandatory for businesses with over 250 staff to publish figures from the previous year by April 4, but this was suspended in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC is encouraging employers to report on time, but companies can submit by October 2021 without penalty.
“Reporting is an integral part of an organisation’s fairness strategy and without it employers lack a valuable tool to assess the fairness of how they recruit, manage, develop and reward their people,” said Charles Cotton, Senior Reward and Performance Adviser at the CIPD. “We would therefore urge those that have not yet filed their figures for 2020 to do so now, rather than waiting until October.
“With the pandemic disproportionately affecting women financially, it’s even more of an imperative for employers to ensure gender pay reporting returns to the top of their agenda.”
Companies are also encouraged to release an action plan to address how they intend to tackle pay inequality.
“The dramatic drop in companies offering up their data indicates the unfortunate reality that against the tumultuous backdrop of a pandemic-struck Britain, the fight for pay equality has fallen to the wayside for many,” said Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft.
“The gender pay gap is an extremely important issue that shouldn’t be brushed over because of economic uncertainty. If this happens, then it’s only allowing more companies to get away with gender-biased treatment. Pay gap reporting, in usual circumstances, enables companies to actively recognise and work towards improving the gender pay gap, acting as a benchmark for the entire organisation.
“Women of all ages and backgrounds need to come together to challenge the gender pay gap and the government needs to play its part in enforcing organisations tackle this issue head-on.
Employers must ensure every employee has the opportunity to expand their role towards higher-paying positions. This could mean reviewing how your organisation views maternity and paternity leave, addressing unconscious bias, or facilitating professional development. Above all, it’s about making a continued, concerted effort; meaningful change cannot occur overnight.”
Race report criticised
Meanwhile, the path to equality suffered another blow as the government’s recent Race Report was described as “misleadingly dismissive of racism within the UK”.
Suki Sandhu OBE, Founder & CEO of INvolve, a global network and consultancy championing diversity and inclusion in business, believes the Report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities serves as a “stop-to-action” rather than a much-needed call-to-action.
“If racism wasn’t a structural issue, we wouldn’t have an ethnicity pay gap,” said Sandhu. “However, ONS research shows us that the current average pay gap between white employees and minority ethnic groups is 2.3% – and much higher for some specific groups. Furthermore, only 1.5% of top management positions are held by black employees in the UK and there are many more stats that indicate racism is a barrier to progression in the workplace and beyond.
“The Race Report serves as a stop-to-action rather than a call-to-action, and ongoing social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter clearly show that inequality and racism is still embedded across society so we cannot become complacent by pretending change is not needed. While there are some positives hidden within the report, such as the recommendation to move away from the term BAME, these small wins don’t compensate for the fact that this Race Report is misleadingly dismissive of racism within the UK and its institutions.”