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Is the pay gap being addressed?

PICTURED: Michelle Gyimah

IS GENDER pay gap reporting just an administrative exercise to reveal what we all already know, or is action being taken to narrow the gap?

Manchester-based pay gap consultant Michelle Gyimah works with small and medium enterprises throughout the UK to help determine the root causes of their pay gaps and implement initiatives and new strategies review their HR strategies and business culture to see what they can do to reduce the pay gaps that they do have.

Gyimah says that while some organisations are embracing change but simply at a loss as to how to rectify past mistakes others see pay gap reporting as just another ‘ticking boxes’ exercise.

“Some organisations have known for quite a while that they’ve had an issue and they’ve reported internally but have never had a real driver to do something about it. But for others, it’s just not on their radar at all and if it is, they just don’t see the real importance and feel it’s just a compliance exercise. It really does depend on the firm and what their values are,” she said.

According to Gyimah, there are common issues that have resulted in pay gaps and the failure by some companies to even recognise that it affects their business is what prevents change.

“Part of my role is to educate people. Pay gap is an umbrella term for big and small problems within workplaces where people can’t progress as much as they want to, based on gender, ethnicity or disability. People don’t like change and organisations can get very sensitive and feel that they need to prove that they don’t discriminate.

“They get stuck on how to implement change because they are coming to it from a place of defensiveness. They have to accept that the way they have been working doesn’t work for the changing needs of the workforce today.”

UNCOMMON

Gyimah says that the workplace is having to catch up with all of the needs of their employees rather than 50 percent of them. Employees with caring responsibilities were generally uncommon and there are now no strategies in place, such as flexible working, to support them in the workforce.

“There is now talk about ethnicity pay reporting being put on the table in the next couple of years. It is important because when we talk about pay gaps it doesn’t help that we only discuss gender.

“The pay gap has been around for a long time so it’s going to take time to see mass change.”

Gyimah wrote a chapter in the book She’s Back by Lisa Unwin and Deb Khan, a popular resource for women returning to the workplace as they often suffer financially as a result of gaps in employment due to maternity or caring responsibilities.

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