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3 key take-aways for employers from Pinsent Masons: 2nd Annual Pay Gap Reporting Conference

Helen Corden (Partner) and Chris Evans (Senior Associate) of Pinsent Masons LLP have summarised the industry knowledge and expertise shared at BFI's 2nd Annual Gender Pay Gap Reporting Conference to help HR professionals develop their fair pay agenda.

With the second round of gender pay gap reporting now complete, many employers are still grappling with the complexities of the gender pay gap regulations. Notwithstanding this, there is mounting pressure on businesses to be increasingly transparent as to pay within different subsets of their workforce. It is no longer enough to focus solely on eliminating the gender pay gap, as the agenda is swiftly moving to a wider population. Ethnicity pay reporting is to be introduced imminently, disability pay reporting is likely to follow shortly thereafter and some companies are already reporting on sexual orientation pay gaps. This trend is only likely to escalate as scrutiny increases on pay practices.

The 2nd Gender Pay Gap Reporting Conference for Employers: Gender – Ethnicity – Disability on 02 July 2019 organised by BFI, shared experiences from industry experts to help HR professionals grapple with the expectations around gender pay gap reporting and best prepare them for the broader fair pay agenda.

What are the key take-away points for HR professionals?

1. There is no 'easy-fix' to eliminating pay gaps – Whilst there has been very little change in the figures over the past 2 reporting periods, the gender pay gap obligations have put the issue front and centre at the top tiers of business. In most cases, there is unlikely to be a short term solution to the gap; rather it will require changes to social norms and increased flexibility in the workplace to achieve an equal playing field. It follows that attitudes to measuring success also need to be refined; focussing on output and achievement, rather than internal connections and networks. When setting goals for your business, it is important to understand not just what 'Good' looks like in your industry, but as the reporting obligations widen what it means to different parts of your workforce who may have very different concerns and priorities. Businesses should consider engaging in statistical analysis modelling to help understand how long it may take to close their pay gaps and what changes may need to be made to the business to do so.

2. Ensuring the fair pay agenda does not become a 'tick box' exercise - It is vital that the senior leadership team 'buy in' to the wider fair pay agenda and the benefits this can bring to the business. This needs to be led from the top and ensure it is being followed through to all tiers of management. As pay transparency gains traction, businesses can expect increased scrutiny from their staff, suppliers and customers.

3. Futureproof your business for wider reporting obligations – Businesses should consider how they are going to collate the data, practically given the size and nature of their workforce and also in compliance with GDPR. This will necessitate real engagement from staff and starting the conversations around pay transparency now should encourage the workforce to feel confident in disclosing the data to you.

The fair pay agenda is here to stay and is only going to expand in the next few years. Pay transparency has become a global issue, with other countries also introducing legislation to monitor and tackle pay gaps. As reporting requirements become more prolific, this topic will become increasingly important to global organisations. Whilst there is no easy fix, starting a dialogue in the business and engaging all levels of staff, in particular the senior leadership team, will help tackle some of the social norms that have led to the gap materialising. Businesses need to be agile to adapt to increasingly rigorous reporting requirements and be able to respond to increased scrutiny not just from within the business, but perhaps more fundamentally externally.