29 March 2018

How the Gender Pay Gap will impact employer brand and internal comms

With the deadline for organisations to publish their ‘Gender Pay Gap’ reports looming, we look at how, with great comms, it can provide an opportunity to strengthen your employer brand.

On the 4th April 2018, every employer with more than 250 employees is legally required to publish their Gender Pay Gap results on their own website and a searchable government database. And it’s going to have a huge impact on internal comms and employer brand.

This change stems from legislation passed back in April 2017, but as of March this year less than half of 9,000 affected employers had published their results. This got us thinking; how are companies going to announce their results internally? How will they explain discrepancies to new talent? What impact will this have on diversity?

Let’s first cover some frequent questions we’re being asked by clients…

Is the Gender Pay Gap the same as Equal Pay?

While they sound similar – and they both deal with the disparity of pay that women receive in the workplace – they’re not the same thing at all.

  • Equal Pay: men and women doing the same job, in the same company, must receive Equal Pay (Equality Act 2010)
  • Gender Pay Gap: the measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation (expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings)

In a nutshell, Gender Pay Gap is looking at the company as a whole. Equal Pay is all about making sure women and men doing the same job, in the same company, get paid the same wage.

  • The BBC’s Gender Pay Gap is 10.7%. That means that for every hour women work at the BBC, on average, they earn 10.7% less than their male colleagues
  • TSB’s Gender Pay Gap is 31%. Yep, men in general are getting paid 31% more than women at TSB

But, the numbers aren’t always as black and white as they look. At TSB, 29% of their employees work part-time and 95% of these are women, which will definitely skew results.

What does the Gender Pay Gap mean for your internal communications and employer brand?

With this information in the public domain, it’s so important for internal comms, HR and employer brand teams to take control of the message and paint the whole picture. Think of the press reporting whatever they like, employees repeating misunderstood facts, candidates being put off by ‘not wanting to work for a sexist employer’, and leadership giving inconsistent or inaccurate messages.

It’s going to have a direct impact on people working in HR, employer brand, legal, marketing and PR. But we believe it goes way further than that. Ultimately, diversity impacts productivity and the bottom line. Ensuring you can keep attracting a diverse talent base is important for the whole business.

Reporting your company’s Gender Pay Gap – 4 considerations:

  1. Announce internally first

You’ve got until April 4th to announce your Gender Pay Gap results. The most important thing is to announce to employees first. Give them the full picture – don’t hide this in your policy folder. It’s an issue that’s important to your workforce so don’t lose control of the message by letting them read it online first.

  1. Contextualise the results

As the TSB example shows, the figures aren’t always straightforward. Outline organisational and cultural reasons that may help to explain the results. For example, part-time workers, specialist roles and senior leadership could all have an impact on the data.

  1. Let employees know your next steps

Even when you contextualise the results, it’s important that your employees know what’s going to be done to help close the gap. Lay out a clear plan. For example, Virgin Money has published its target to achieve a 0% gap by 2020.

  1. Keep your promises

Make sure you report regularly on how it’s all going. There’s nothing worse as an employee than false promises, or hearing something announced and then never hearing anything else about it again.

What’s the best way to announce the results?

For all of this, in person is best. But for larger companies that’s not always possible. Why not record a video with the CEO discussing the results and then hold a series of drop-in sessions with HR for employees who have more questions?

Back up your initial comms with a report, pdf, infographic or animation that explains your GPG, the reasons behind it and steps you’re going to take. Make sure employees are clear about who to approach within the business with any further question or concerns they may have – there’s nothing worse for teams members than their line managers being kept out of the loop and unable to provide clarity around key issues.

What about after the Gender Pay Gap results have been published?

It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom, for the best companies it presents a pretty big opportunity show off your transparency, show employees you’re listening and open up more channels of communication with employees. Blaze a trail in your industry and stand out from your competitors.

Some other things you can do:

  • Why not run a return to work campaigns for new mothers?
  • Make changes to the way you handle your recruitment. For example,  gender-balanced shortlists and gender-blind recruitment
  • Start a mentoring programme or enlist talent champions to give women better access to senior positions
  • Be more open with diversity – show progress and give updates about gender balance and diversity in general

Do you need help communicating pre or post Gender Pay Gap?

Well, we can help! If you need a helping hand communicating internally, controlling the external message, or perhaps just a little inspiration or knowledge why not get in touch.

From toolkits to help line managers communicate effectively, and engaging video which help contextualise your results, through to employer brand workshops evaluating the impact of the Gender Pay Gap – there’s so much that can be done to make your employer brand even more attractive.

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