Mind the Gap

Mind The Pay Gap

Laura Paterson

As the April deadline for reporting on the gender pay gap looms, many organisations have been releasing their figures in advance. Easyjet, for example, revealed a 45% gap – a figure that remains shocking despite their somewhat misguided efforts to explain it away with the excuse that they have more male pilots and fewer male flight attendants and admin staff.

But, before we start to feel too smug, we need to remind ourselves that last year many women in our own industry weren’t ‘paid’ to come to work after Equal Pay Day either. (Equal Pay Day is the moveable date – in 2017 it fell on 10 November – when, compared to male colleagues, women effectively begin to work for free.)

Based on early responders to the government registry, indications from data analytics company Staffmatrix suggest the finance sector has a pay gap of 31%. A figure that’s expected to rise further as early responders have tended to have a lower-than-average pay gap. In fact, according to Business Insiders’ 2017 interactive graphic, the UK finance industry has one of the largest median gender pay gap of all sectors.

The impact on business

Gender equality, however, isn’t only a ‘women’s issue’. It’s a moral and economic one. That’s because damage to your brand and reputation won’t just cost you in the war for talent, it’ll also affect your company in terms of attrition and loss of productivity.

It’s clear that we all – recruitment consultants and hiring managers alike – need to work together towards exposing and eliminating unequal pay. But true gender equality relates to more. Indeed in Cedar’s experience the salaries offered to male and female candidates in the finance sector tend to be equal. The main issue is that – despite a huge increase in the number of women occupying senior positions – men continue to dominate at this level. And, although as recruiters we pride ourselves on putting the best candidate forward regardless of gender, we’re aware that deeply ingrained cognitive biases mean that unconscious sex-discrimination still exists.

So what can we – and you – do to ensure gender equality is addressed?

First understand why the pay gap exists …

Plain old discrimination: In particular – and despite rarely being an issue for men – a woman’s commitment to her career continues to be questioned when it comes to having a family.
Caring for dependents: Women still bear the brunt of looking after elderly relatives and children and, as a result, are often forced into taking poorly remunerated part-time roles.
Fewer women than men in senior positions: Unfortunately the qualities required to become a senior manager are still mainly perceived as ‘masculine’. The lack of female role models and time spent in part-time roles or out of the working world altogether also have an effect.
Failure to nurture talent: Senior managers who, in the early stages, fail to give women the opportunities and projects they need to advance their careers.

So, challenge it…

 Accountability: Even if your organisation falls below the 250-employee threshold for gender pay gap reporting, make it your responsibility to analyse and report on its statistics.
Flexible working: Not only does it offer the holy grail of a good work-life balance and employee wellbeing, it also allows women to work full-time and care for their dependents at the same time. Even better, making sure flexible working is available to all means men will be able to take on more such duties, helping to overcome outdated cultural expectations.

Stop asking what candidates earn: One of the simplest ways in which you can help is to re-frame how you approach salary negotiations. In fact, several American states have already done just this by outlawing interview questions about applicants’ salaries. Always calculate salary based on skills, experience and the candidate’s worth and value to your organisation – not their current salary. Otherwise you may find yourself adopting someone else’s gender pay gap.

Feeling impatient? Read on for a quick fix …

Bearing in mind that latest estimates suggest it will take 217 years to eliminate the pay gap entirely; the quickest way to address it is simple: identify which women in your company are paid less than their male counterparts, and raise their salaries accordingly.

At Cedar, our unbiased, consultative advice can help your business address gender inequality by benchmarking salaries in the market based on skills, experience and qualifications. To find out more, call now for a confidential, no-obligation conversation: 0203 002 8050.