January 24, 2018
By 5 April 2018 some 9,000 UK companies with over 250 employees will have to disclose their gender pay gap.
With the national UK average currently standing at 9.1% for full-time employees, few companies will report no gap at all. And when they do – customers, competitors, activists and media will be watching closely.
What is the gender pay gap, anyway? It’s the mean (average) and the median (middle number in distribution) of income ranges between all men and all women working for an organisation. If you employ more men than women overall, with fewer women than men in senior roles, you are in for a considerable pay gap “favouring” your male workforce.
What we’ve seen so far can simply be summed up as: same story – different outcomes. Strangely enough, it’s not the headline gender pay gap numbers that matter the most. It’s the way companies shape their narrative and present their numbers to the world.
Whatever you do, don’t rush to file your numbers too quickly. Great haste makes great waste. First in a series of many more gender pay gap reports to be submitted over the years, it will always stay there as a reference point and a benchmark for the organisation.
Yet, somewhat surprisingly, 190 companies – or 36% out of those that have reported their numbers through the government website already – had failed to provide a mandatory explanation of those numbers signed by a senior person within the organisation. The Financial Times notes that it violates the government gender pay gap reporting requirements. The newspaper, in fact, was quick to turn this new government initiative into a reputation campaigning platform for its analytical self. Watching the gender pay gap reporting patterns like a hawk – the FT continues to question irregularities in company submissions. More recently, it urged the UK government to show zero tolerance to knowingly inaccurate company submissions. It’s not to say that other media find it less of a juicy subject.
If anything, these three examples show that that one’s gender pay gap results report could be either a threat or an opportunity. Its positioning must be well thought through. Think about how you communicate it. When? What would help to bring those numbers to life and make them easily understood by all stakeholders?
As much as we, PR professionals, would love to talk about the value we bring in ROI terms, this is a perfect example of the real difference good communication strategies can make to business outcomes.
We are helping our clients get to the root cause and contextualise their gender pay gap results in a way that balances operational decision-making with reputational considerations.
If this is something we can help you with – do get in touch.