UK companies committed to gender pay gap reporting

UK companies committed to gender pay gap reporting

UK companies committed to gender pay gap reporting but need to explain slows publication

  • 29 August 2017
  • United Kingdom, London
  • A third of companies have completed reporting, few have published yet
  • The majority (73%) intend to publish a narrative to support the figures
  • Over half (54%) have looked into root causes, albeit focusing on pay levels rather than long term issues such as women's careers

Although supportive of Gender Pay Gap reporting in principle, the majority of UK companies see the need to create a narrative around their figures which is slowing down publication, according to a recent survey by Mercer. The survey shows that although perceptions of the regulations have improved since being made final, companies find the regulations complex (41%), confusing (29%) and misleading (28%) – see table 1. A third of companies had completed their analysis at the end of May and most (44%) plan on leaving it to later in the year (Oct 2017-Jan 2018) to report; 28% don’t know when they will report.

“Although committed to the principle of reporting many UK companies feel the figures will show an overly simplistic view and so see a need to explain further to their staff and shareholders”, said Chris Charman, Principal and Reward expert at Mercer. “Many companies are concerned about the risk of reputational damage when publishing their figures, especially as there still seems to be much confusion between the Gender Pay Gap and the legal requirement of equal pay for equal work.

“Most organisations are focused on getting to grips with the figures and developing a narrative to explain. Leading organisations are well advised to think about how they can be looking ahead in order to be making improvements in future years.  At the heart of this is looking at root causes, which can be found in pay, female promotion and the jobs that men and women predominate in.”

In terms of looking for root causes of the pay gaps, 54% of respondents have conducted some sort of analysis (e.g. equal pay audits and bonus programme analysis) in the last three years. Looking ahead there is a dramatic change in the attention being given by organisations to actions beyond pay, and some leading organisations are addressing this issue already.  For example, 25% of organisations have analysed data on female promotions already with a further 30% intending to do this; 25% have set goals for female representation with a further 19% intending to do this; 36% have already trained managers in unconscious bias with a further 20% intending to do this.

“Those companies who focus solely on compliance will have a hard time closing the gap,” said Mr Charman. “From our own research we see that to make progress on closing the Gender Pay Gap requires fair pay programmes, equal pay monitoring and corrective action, a strong focus on female progression and gender parity, as well as attention to the broader diversity and inclusion programme.”

Mercer’s Gender Pay Gap Reporting Survey provides insights from HR and reward professionals on their perceptions, reactions, concerns and plans surrounding the legislation. Mercer received responses from 165 UK companies, of which 29% were from the FTSE250, representing a market capitalisation of more than £449bn.

Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements explained

About Mercer

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organisations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 22,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With more than 60,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.In the UK, Mercer Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.