Gender pay gap: Do the numbers tell your real story?

Companies in the UK must now report their gender pay gap. But to tell the whole story they must go deeper.

4th April 2018 marked the first deadline for companies in the UK that employ over 250 people to report on their gender pay gap. 

The requirement to publish relative pay values for men and women in organisations has generated thousands of column inches — not much of it positive.

One of the problems is that the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Most of the time, they tell a skewed story. It means that employees, clients, potential employees, lawmakers, customers, and the media (communicating to all those groups, and more) gauge your commitment to diversity and equality in a single percentage.

It’s one you have to report. But it doesn’t have to be the only metric.

Often, there is a story to tell beyond the reported numbers — one can use better comparatives, adjust for seniority, compare like with like, and explain carefully and with insight — all of which can help reflect a more accurate picture of your pay policy and communicate the real story behind the numbers.

Some companies will see a very real need to do that right now, setting the record straight among those stakeholders. But the real test will come following next year’s deadline; will those employers with contentious pay gaps communicate the story behind their perceived disparity effectively and convincingly?

While this year’s deadline has passed, the work has only just begun in an area of reporting that will become increasingly important in shaping corporate reputation for the UK’s leading companies.

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