Workplace equality: mind the gap

Last week we hosted a breakfast roundtable where employee engagement, HR and corporate communications professionals discussed the business opportunities presented by the gender pay gap reporting. The conversation was facilitated by Stephen Duncan and Laura Tapper, Directors in Weber Shandwick’s respective Employee Engagement and Corporate Communications practices.

In April next year, media coverage is likely to be dominated by outrage on gender inequality in the workplace. This will include the naming and shaming of organisations which have apparently failed to support women rise through the ranks.

From our perspective, the legislation requiring companies with more than 250 employees to disclose the discrepancies between male and female pay extends beyond a gender equality issue. It’s bigger than that. It represents one milestone in the long journey to achieving fairness for everyone in the workplace.

Here at Weber Shandwick, we are agreed it’s only a matter of time before the current requirement to report gender pay gaps is extended to encompass race, ethnicity, disability, social class and sexual orientation. The new legislation is also another step closer towards organisations providing greater transparency on remuneration. No longer is it just CEO and boardroom pay that’s under the spotlight – male and female employees at all levels want an open discussion about how the pay they receive compares to their colleagues’.

As communicators, we have an important role in ensuring this is positioned as a conversation about fairness, not one which creates divisiveness. Consensus at our event – which included FTSE 100 companies spanning the retail, corporate, legal and financial services sectors – was that this reporting should be seized on as an opportunity for businesses to tell their positive stories about the work they are doing to support diversity and inclusion. And this should be championed as a benefit for men as well as women.

Landing the message internally must be the priority for all businesses. Employees that understand their organisation’s gender pay gap data in context, and who believe their employer really does stand for equality and fairness, will champion your cause and jump to your defence.

The takeaway learning? Gender pay reporting isn’t just a women’s issue. Equality matters to all employees. And this isn’t an issue that’s going to go away: your data will continue to be inspected over the coming years. Be proactive, scrutinise your statistics, set targets, formulate your narrative and put fairness at the heart of your business strategy.

If you’d like to know more about what’s required in the gender pay gap reporting and how your organisation can take advantage of the opportunity, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch.