With many businesses focused on a return to some kind of normality post the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that the requirement to submit gender pay gap reports for 2020 has not gone away. The original April 2021 deadline ( and postponement of enforcement action) was simply extended until 5 October 2021, so employers with over 250 employees in the UK, have just under two weeks to ensure their reports are published.
What is the Gender Pay Gap?
The gender pay gap is the difference in the average pay of men and women across the labour market and since the introduction of the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Regulations in 2017, employers with over 250 employees in the UK have been required to calculate and publish their gender pay gap results.
The aim of the legislation is simple - to require employers to analyse and, of course, address any pay gap identified.
The reasons for the gender pay gap are varied and complicated but in many industries, the gender pay gap exists and is fuelled by:-
Women taking time out of their careers to have children;
Women predominately taking on caring responsibilities for elderly relatives;
Women taking part-time roles with less opportunity for promotion or lower paid roles to fit around childcare commitments;
Unconscious bias in hiring and promotion decisions.
The lack of representation of females in STEM subjects and careers, and
Roles in traditionally female dominated industries such as retail, hospitality and care paid at lower salaries.
The impact of COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to result in a widening of the gender pay gap. With schools closed during lockdown, and limited childcare options, many working parents (predominately mothers) were forced to reduce their working hours. In addition, female dominated sectors such as hospitality, catering, retail and tourism were badly affected by the pandemic. A 2020 survey by PWC found that 78% of people who had lost their job due to COVID-19 were women and it is clear that women’s earning and career prospects have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Opportunities for employers
But it is not all bad news, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic also provides an opportunity for forward-thinking and innovative employers to embrace new remote working practices and break down old fashioned cultures of presenteeism and full-time attendance in the office. Now that many organisations have seen that employees can work productively from home, it is hoped that this will result in higher retention rates of female talent and increased promotion opportunities for women. It is well documented that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25% more likely to have above average profitability than those in the lower quartiles.
Organisations who are not required to report on their gender pay gap because they have less than 250 employees, would still be well advised to undertake the exercise. Measuring the gap gives you a chance to start to address it and it is clear that employers who address their gender pay gap and embrace diversity attract talented female candidates to their roles. Candidates are becoming increasingly interested in the culture of organisations and will be reviewing employers’ diversity statistics, flexible working policies and gender pay gap when deciding where they wish to work.
In a competitive post-pandemic market place, smart employers will put themselves ahead of their competitors if they take steps now to address any gender pay gap through flexible working initiatives, unconscious bias training and increased management focus on diversity issues. There has never been a more urgent need to take these steps and the organisations that do so now will be those who thrive in the future.
Need assistance with your Gender Pay Gap Report or Diversity strategy? We can help. For more information, please contact Claire Taylor-Evans on [email protected].