This article was first published as Anthony Bullick’s column in the Daily Post business section on Wednesday 28 April.
Wednesday 4 April is the deadline for companies with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay split – a review into the difference between what their male and female employees earn.
It’s part of a move by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to crackdown on gender inequality in the workplace.
It’s believed that EHRC will adopt a tough stance, with consequences including fines and naming and shaming for those who either haven’t shared their findings or have reported a large gap.
Consult your PR agency: both scenarios can have a damaging effect on the brand’s reputation. This can lead to concerns from stakeholders including employees, customers, and politicians, as well as hinder recruitment.
The first step for businesses is to ensure they publish their results: being open and transparent is better than hiding away.
In addition, keep a close eye on staff numbers as a recruitment drive could send your company over 250 members of staff and trigger the need to report the gender pay split.
The data in isolation can be misleading, leading to incorrect perceptions about the brand. Include a narrative alongside the findings on your website to put the information into context.
Just because there is a split, does not necessarily equate to any wrongdoing by a business.
For example, one reason for a split could be there are more males in senior roles, which tend to attract larger salaries. You may have identified this three years ago and been working to attract more applications from females, as well as introduced a comprehensive career development programme for female employees.
If there is a gap and there is nothing in place to tackle it, take a proactive and progressive approach to deal with the issue and include this in your narrative.
The gender pay review has been a hot topic for the media with the likes of the BBC in the spotlight. It will continue to be of interest as more and more firms publish their results.
If the media wants to name your business, they will likely approach you for a comment. Have a pre-prepared statement, using the narrative. This will help communicate that there is not an issue or you have put significant steps and processes in place to tackle the gap.
This activity is another reason why your PR team shouldn’t be solely tasked with writing press releases: PR is a strategic management discipline and a place on the board will help them successfully manage your reputation.