The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported among full-time employees the gender pay gap in April 2022 was 8.3%; 7.7% in April 2021. “The gender gap in total earnings in the UK is almost twice as large as in some other countries which suggests the gender earnings gap is heavily influenced by the policy environment and cultural and social norms”, said Mark Franks, director of welfare at the Nuffield Foundation.

Out of the respondents to our Sammons Pensions Annual Salary Survey 2022 61% feel their employer could be more transparent with salary information internally/externally. Comments varied: several “fully transparent” to “It’s taboo to talk about pay at work, you can get in trouble for it but I know the men will be earning more and not necessarily warrant it on ability and effort”; “No grading system so don’t know if your salary has been correctly benchmarked“.

With the requirement for any employer with 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gap data annually the onus is on organisations to understand the scale of their pay gap, why it exists and take steps to address any imbalance.

Ways to improve gender equality in the workplace and break down barriers to drive women’s career progression could  include:

Challenge bias

Ingrained assumptions can deter women from applying for positions in certain industries. Numerous studies shows that tackling often unconscious bias will attract and retain employees whilst improving productivity.

Some ways to support this include ensure employees understand the company values diversity, inclusion, and equity. Educate and train employees. Be transparent about your hiring and promotion process. Ensure decision-makers are accountable for the organisation’s values. Have clear criteria for evaluating qualifications and performance.

Review your recruitment process

Ensuring as objective a recruitment process as possible will support an unbiased shortlisting of applicants. This starts with the job and person specification and any associated job adverts, including considering requirements listed or phases used through to the interview and selection process, and training of anyone involved in this.

Many studies point to companies with more diverse workforces performing better financially.

Offer flexibility

Offering flexible hours, remote working or job sharing can contribute to achieving work-life balance, whilst reducing your gender pay gap. With women typically taking on more of the responsibility for childcare, flexibility would support being able to take on more senior roles or responsibilities. This in turn can help with succession planning.

In the Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of respondents said that flexible working hours helped them achieve more productivity, and 30% of those surveyed said that less or no time commuting allowed them to be more productive. Financial-world reported online searches for ‘work from home jobs’ have hit their highest point in five years, spiking by 123% January 2023, whilst ‘hybrid roles’ searches also at a five year high in the UK, exploding by 614% January 2023.

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