21 July 2015

Mind the gap and treat your staff equally

If you’ve been paying attention to the news recently, you will have noticed a lot of talk about the gender pay gap(GPG). David Cameron has made a pledge to push forward with plans to eliminate the gap ‘within a generation’. Within the next 12 months, the government plan to introduce a policy that requires firms with more than 250 employees to publish the average pay of male and female employees. The hope is that employers javascript:;will feel pressure to change and pay their staff equally if the discrepancies are available for public judgement.

The GPG seems like a very out-dated concept in 2015 and many refuse to believe it still actually exists. However, the statistics speak for themselves. In 2014, the European Commission revealed their research on the GPG in the EU. They found that although women make up 60% of university graduates in the EU, they will earn, on average, 16% less than men per hour.

There are many complex factors behind the GPG; discrimination, work in different sectors, and traditional gendered family roles, for example. So how can you work around these factors to eliminate the GPG in your business, and why is this so important to your business’ success?

Strategies to address the GPG will understandably vary substantially from business to business, depending on factors such as industry and size, but there are some general tips a small business could follow.

Ensuring women are represented at all levels of management is a good start in wiping out the GPG. By this, I don’t mean kicking out all the men and filling every senior position with a woman! Simply ensuring all managers are fully committed to reflecting your business’s equal values and representing your staff’s best interests by providing them with training in this area can help. And of course, having a mix of genders at senior level where possible is a positive.

A review of your pay structures and recruitment methods may also be necessary. Does your current system ensure equity across all salary levels and work types? If not, then work towards amending this. Does a potential gender bias exist in your recruitment and selection process? Try to create a balance between both genders when you interview candidates. The same applies for promotions and pay rises. Ensure both genders have equal access to furthering their career, regardless of their current position in the company.

As I mentioned, strategies will vary depending on your business, but following tips such as this and making a conscious effort to change organisational culture if necessary can go a long way to reducing the GPG within your business, which will in turn have a flow-on effect to the broader economy. The government also hope to offer free software to all UK companies, which will enable businesses to calculate their GPG easily, and identify issues that may be preventing women from rising up in the business.

As well as helping to create a more equal society, closing the GPG makes good business sense. It pretty much goes without saying that if you treat your staff equally, they will be happier working for you. Employees are more likely to stay with an employer where they consider that remuneration is fair. Treating your employees equally will create a positive work environment and gain the confidence of your workforce. A happier workforce equals a more productive and competitive workforce, loyal to the business and keen to contribute to its success. Organisations that pay employees fairly, regardless of gender, will have access to a broader talent pool and be better able to retain talent. Gender equality in your business is also essential for your public image. A better public image means a wider and more satisfied customer base. You know it makes sense for your business!

Finally, and crucially, research points to a significant increase in success of businesses when there is a gender balanced team leading and running the business. The varied and valuable input from different genders, ethnicities and backgrounds creates a business much more in line with the society we live in.

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