Gender Pay Gap – whose fault is it anyway?

Posted on 26th April 2017

As an office full of HR peeps and also (most days) all women, we often discuss the issues in relation to the equal pay gap and how it has come about. As we start to work on Gender Pay Gap reporting with our clients, and more importantly how to address any issues, this discussion has become more popular.

It is fascinating though, the different opinions that are out there and the misunderstandings as to the gap and what is being said. One really common topic is when companies announce they are pledging or setting a target for the number of women in certain roles or levels in the organisation. One comment in our office was a very defiant: “It’s not right to place women in top jobs because they are women”. Of course this person was correct in that no one should be put in to a role due to their gender, but what does need addressing is why far fewer women get into those roles.

What organisations need to do is look at how people progress within their organisation; is it transparent and fair, and are both genders given the chance to progress?

However, it goes so much deeper than what happens in organisations. A lot of the issues sit within society and culture. There are still certain professions that are dominated by one gender and this is what needs to be looked at. Lots of big businesses are doing a lot of work in this area, for example, working in schools to encourage girls to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers. I always remember my son when he was very young being very surprised when he went to the Doctor when the Doctor was a woman. This was not a stereotype that came from me, but when I thought about it most Doctors he had read about in children’s books or on children’s television were male. When he then met a male nurse it blew his mind!

So, what can you do in your business? Even if you are not covered by the need to report on the gender pay gap, take time to look at the ‘make-up’ of your workforce. Is it pretty even or is there a dominance of either men or women in senior roles? If you have this then start to look at how this has come about… if you need our help you know where we are.

Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director