Across the sectors, there was a relatively high degree of consistency but the Financial Services sector stood out with the largest gap in spite of having a profile in line with the norm. It is clear that many companies in our survey are on a positive track to improve their standing against their competitors. Clearly, they are mindful of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) research that nearly two-thirds (61%) of women would take an organisation's gender pay gap into consideration when looking for a new job.
What activities have organisations already done, are doing, planning to do?
Looking forward, organisations top planned activities to improve their gender pay gap are:
- Examine workforce/labour flows and female progression (35%) with the purpose of understanding where the pinch-points are for female workflows (entry, exit, promotion) in order to target interventions and build a long-term pipeline for talent.
- Review and change the recruitment profile (30%), typically this will involve setting recruitment partners the goal of minimum number of female candidates in their selection pool.
- Review of job performance and promotion criteria to ensure they are gender neutral (28%), as the title suggests ensuring how decisions are taken are not based on criteria which in themselves carry bias that can lead to attribution errors e.g. seeing a more directive leadership style as being the only route to demonstrating effective leadership.
- Review policies and practices from a D&I perspective (28%) with the purpose of ensuring they are up to date and reflect a more inclusive approach, and that they are being effectively implemented.
- Review of pay and bonus programmes to test for gender bias (28%) in order to ensure that the gender pay gap is not being impacted by inappropriate outcomes from the base pay review and bonus plans.
The final step to making meaningful change is to implement the policies and programmes to fit your business. As you will have read earlier in this report, there are some actions that are common in all businesses (such as role modelling and networking) and some that are more industry-specific (such as tailored graduate and apprenticeship recruitment).
A few strategies which are particularly successful:
- Lack of female representation in your industry – the need is to bring female talent into the industry. Strategies should consider how to bring females into the business from outside the industry with transferrable skills, and building the talent pipeline at lower levels.
- Lack of female senior progression – review the promotion process or succession planning at these grades, are they susceptible to subconscious bias. Develop diverse succession plans and talent development schemes.
- Lower female recruitment into senior roles – ensure there is no opportunity for unconscious bias, or gendered language, in the process. You could incentivise your recruitment agency to provide gender balanced shortlists, or if a diverse employee is hired.
- Higher female exits – evaluate exit interviews to understand whether there are common reasons. Consider whether there are parts of your business’ EVP that are more aligned to particular employees, or whether the organisational culture is not inclusive of employee differences.
The strategies that you target will be crucial to the success of your diversity and inclusion programme. By ensuring that you are focussing finite resources only on the programmes that will solve your business problems, you can overcome the many pitfalls and reduce your gender pay gap. Mercer has been involved in supporting organisations to thrive through diversity and inclusion for over 40 years. Our range of support to help improve diversity and inclusion reflects the variety of interventions needed to deliver success. Whether you have a bespoke consulting project in mind, want to take part in our Research or actively be part of some of the world’s leading networks we can help.