Skip to content

What are you waiting for?

By Kate Parker

8 March 2018
,

What if all companies were forthcoming and honest about their mistakes or successes? With the deadline for gender pay gap reporting only a blink away, and a call from the government for employers to publish their ethnicity pay gap, transparency is no longer optional. And whilst some organisations are still not convinced that the new reporting rules will make an impact there is no doubt that the pay gap does exist and we all have a duty to help reduce it. The 100 years it’s expected to take is a hell of a long time – too long in fact – to accomplish this parity, but there are ways to help step up the pace of change. Of course the challenges vary from one industry to another, and most opportunities extend far beyond comparative salaries; recruitment, training and building a more inclusive culture at every level are key. Here I’ve reflected on some areas with fairly universal potential.

Recruitment

Check the language being used in all your job ads – what you say can make a big difference to which gender is more inclined to apply. Incorporate an inclusivity statement and be explicit about flexible working practices. Be clear and loud about the choices you are making and the impact it has to help build your profile as an inclusive employer. I’ve included some links below that I’ve found useful and invite you to share more in the comments below.

Acknowledge unspoken and unconscious biases and work to mitigate them throughout the recruitment process, whether it’s via blind CVs and skills based interviews or scrutinising the software being used to screen and filter candidates to ensure they aren’t amplifying them further.

Flexible working

It’s one of the biggest facilitators of an inclusive culture, but it needs to work for both the business and the employee. And by flexible I don’t just mean part-time; changing from fixed hours or locations could open up the business to a whole new pool of talent, and enable your existing employees to thrive at work.

Two things are important here; the ability of managers to recognise good work and offer progression opportunities regardless of how many days someone works or from what location, and it needs to be applied fairly and objectively, ensuring that expectations are instilled across the company. Both require strong channels of communication and solid training and support.

A recent report busted the myth that flexible working is only for women with kids, so it’s crucial we offer it to men too. The same goes for shared parental leave; offering the same package to both men and women, as we do here at Forster, and building a culture that supports men as the chief care-giver, is ultimately better for everyone.

Training

If we still call women bossy, instead of assertive or view their capacity to listen, connect and empathise as ‘fluffy’ soft skills, we are generating limited beliefs. Training around leadership and entrepreneurship should reiterate that skills and talents aren’t masculine or feminine. By changing the language and expecting and recognising these virtues in the round, it will create a far more inclusive culture, particularly within senior teams.

Pay

Regular benchmarking should ensure you have a salary target for each role within the company and which is used transparently during recruitment – if it’s a sliding scale ‘based on experience’, articulate what this looks like. Once in a blue moon is not enough. It needs to be revisited and salaries adjusted at least on an annual basis.

The argument around paying a fair wage may seem like an outlying issue if you’re lucky enough to be in one on the industries that pays well above minimum wage, but what about the cleaners, delivery drivers and catering staff who are regularly in the building? The real Living Wage (and I don’t mean the ‘National Living Wage’ or a ‘London weighting’) goes beyond helping to close the gap, tackling widespread debt and financial insecurity in roles which are consistently amongst the lowest paid. Not only will you reach a better talent pool if you pay a consistent and fairer wage, by demanding this of your suppliers you can amplify its impact.

It’s unrealistic to think there’s a single solution or any quick fixes. There are so many factors that play a part and it’s going to take time and persistence, like any successful behaviour change programme. Progressive organisations are already mapping out a framework and taking action, and those who aren’t risk public scrutiny, losing valuable talent or worse. So what are you waiting for?

Useful links: