Kelly Metcalf gives us her take on how organisations can bridge the gender pay gap.
Reading time: 4 mins 30 secs
Why is gender pay gap reporting so crucial for organisations?
“Unfortunately, many UK organisations still have a considerable gender pay gap which favours men. This is more pronounced in the technology sector, where women are under-represented at both the leadership and technical levels.
“Instead, women often find themselves more heavily concentrated in certain roles such as marketing and HR.
“At a time when the UK is experiencing a serious – and ever-growing – skills gap, gender pay gap reporting is a crucial component for welcoming more women into the workforce. The IT sector faces a huge shared challenge to inspire more girls to study STEM subjects and pursue technical careers.
“Last year, only 19% of university students taking up computer sciences, engineering and technology related degrees were women. To ensure the UK is prepared for a digital future, businesses have a responsibility to work together to bridge this gap and attract more women to the sector.
“Strengthening gender diversity will improve business performance by enhancing innovation, customer relationships and a business’s ability to adapt to the changes in the market.
“Closing the gender pay gap will make businesses more competitive in an increasingly digital and diverse world and will enable them to attract the best talent.”
What advice would you give organisations trying to close their gap?
“Eradicating gender pay gap will not happen naturally – or at least not at a fast enough pace. Businesses need to take an approach that seeks to identify and address systemic and organisational factors that contribute to the pay gap.
In order to deliver real change, organisations must commit to a big vision that will achieve gender equality
“I would recommend taking a programmatic approach, through a detailed set of activities focused on these key themes: recruiting and retaining talent; enabling women in the workplace and investing in their development; and using data to support, determine and assess the action plan.
“All of this needs to be underpinned by clear leadership commitment and role modelling.
“A good starting point for business leaders to tackle these gender gaps is to begin an open conversation with stakeholders, employees, partners and customers.
“Only by fully understanding the role that gender parity can play in driving business growth and success will businesses across the UK be consistently motivated to act differently and bring change.
“There are many steps that organisations can implement to facilitate a diverse and inclusive work environment. However, one major factor preventing gender equality is the pipeline problem.
“Driving the recruitment of women at all levels in organisations, from graduate and apprentice levels to mid-management levels, will be vital if organisations are to address the low number of women in senior-management level positions.
“For instance, businesses could work closely with their recruitment partners to reinforce their business goals and vision, as well as company culture and values.
“Similarly, businesses can choose to advertise jobs in an inclusive way, focusing on potential rather than just prior experience to help attract the most diverse talent, while highlighting diverse role models throughout the business.
“We should also be looking further than just at the recruitment stage. Women need to be retained and nurtured within an organisation.
“The introduction of a proactive women’s business network, to champion gender equality in the organisation, for instance, can be vital in ensuring women are equipped with the support, advice and networking opportunities they need to grow and succeed in the workplace.
“Finally, taking a more measured approach and focusing on outcomes, is crucial. This includes tracking career progression for those on development programmes and working with business leaders to reduce gender pay gaps in their business areas.”
Is reporting enough – what if companies don’t take appropriate action?
“Reporting on your business’s pay gap alone is not enough to create meaningful change – however, it is a great starting point.
“Reporting helps businesses understand their position, and opens up the conversation. Fundamentally, failing to take action on gender pay gap will leave a business at risk of becoming irrelevant as competitors attract and nurture the best talent.
“The reality is that D&I needs to be fully incorporated into a company’s DNA for the benefits of it to be realised. Fortunately, there are many steps organisations can take to facilitate a diverse and inclusive work environment.
“At the end of the day, to sustain the competitiveness of the UK and to ensure we continue to drive forward the UK economy, we need to bring in a wide array of people from different background and with different ways of thinking.”
How much change do you expect to see in a year’s time?
“In a year’s time I expect there to be some positive change – however, as not enough women are studying STEM subjects today, I don’t believe that there will be a considerable uptick in the immediate future.
“We have already seen some positive change within organisations since the introduction of gender pay reporting: this has been achieved by those organisations that recognise the value of inclusion for business performance.
“As long as businesses prioritise initiatives and activities which promote not only diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but encourage women to enter the sector, the situation will continue to improve.
“At the end of the day, the future does look bright for women in the UK, but in order to deliver real change, organisations must commit to a big vision that will achieve gender equality.”
About the interviewee
Kelly Metcalf is head of diversity, inclusion and wellbeing at Fujitsu