A new pioneering approach to tackling the gender pay gap was put in force last week, which will require British businesses with 250 or more employees to publish information on male-female salary disparity.
So it’s dispiriting to learn that a new study has shown that almost a third of British bosses do not think the pay gap is a business issue.
A survey of 250 employers – all of whom are eligible to disclose pay gap information under the new initiative carried out by NGA Human Resources – revealed that 29% of senior decision makers surveyed did not view the gender pay gap as a business issue.
Geoff Pearce, managing consultant at NGA Human Resources, said: “It is cause for concern that a significant proportion of business leaders still do not take the gender pay gap seriously.
“While compulsory reporting is imminent, progress towards closing the gap will only be made if [organisations] are prepared to put in place meaningful programmes.”
The new initiative means that almost half of the UK’s workforce – 9,000 employers and over 15 million employees – will have to be transparent about their pay gap, which is currently 18.1% in the UK.
Eligible companies will have until April 2018 to submit the figures which will be published online on a a new government website. However, the research by NGA found that 20% of those surveyed said their business would not be ready to disclose the information on time.
Adding to the disappointing responses, 14% of male decision makers surveyed said they felt the initiative was unnecessary, while 7% of female bosses agreed.
Speaking to Stylist.co.uk, Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Women, cited reasons including “maternity leave, career breaks, a lack of opportunities and gender bias” for the UK’s current gender pay gap.
But Dinenage explains there will be government support and schemes geared towards enabling female employees to overcome these hurdles, including flexible working and shared parental leave.
“We need to make sure companies have really good flexible working offers and shared parental leave, and that they are getting great women back into work,” she said.
However, an encouraging number of bosses in the survey did agree with Dinenage on this, perceiving that government initiatives could end of the gender pay gap. 49% felt back-to-work schemes can help to even the gender pay gap.
47% said recruitment schemes like returnships – a form of work experience which help former senior staff who’ve taken a career break return to a high level role - would help close the gap.
On top this, 57% felt leveling pay would help close the gap.
Pearce commented: “The government’s funding for returnships is a step in the right direction, yet it is up to individual businesses to develop them if the pay gap is to be reduced for good.
“By addressing their pay gap, organisations will not just have good figures to report on paper, but the commercial benefits of a diverse and fairly remunerated workforce, improving performance, productivity and profitability.”
Beyond the obvious benefits of equalising pay on women’s career trajectory and morale, eliminating the gap would give the economy a huge boost. Dinenage said it could add £150 billion to our annual GDP by 2025.
“Helping women to reach their full potential isn’t only the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense and is good for British business", she said.