March 8th marks International Women’s Day and this year and the focus is on ‘Embrace Equality’. This means that employers should strive to provide equal opportunities for all employees creating a culture free from discrimination and bias.
Whilst there has been progress in recent years, there is still a way to go. It has been reported that the gender pay gap stands at almost 15 per cent and it widens dramatically for women who have children. In addition, a recent study by TUC suggested that an average woman in paid employment effectively works for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man.
By not properly valuing and supporting women in the workplace means that employers are not getting the most out of their female employees and are missing out on a wealth of talent.
Angharad Rayner, Solicitor at Cater Leydon Millard, part of WorkNest, explains what businesses can do today to help drive a healthy environment for all genders.
Check your job adverts
When recruiting, job advertisements should be written in a gender-neutral way, and the descriptive language used should give equal weight to male and female descriptors. It is also important that employers ensure that the requirements listed are actually necessary, so as to avoid putting individuals off applying if they do not meet one hundred of the criteria.
In addition, it is also useful to state the salary range on the job advertisement for full transparency and note if flexible working is an option.
Review recruitment and promotion questions and tasks
When shortlisting candidates, a skills-based assessment and structured interviews should be adopted to prevent any bias at both the recruitment stage and when interviewing for promotions. Using structured interviews means that all candidates are asked the same questions and are scored using a pre-agreed criteria.
Start a Gender Pay Gap Analysis – even if you’re an SME
In 2017 legislation was introduced which means companies with 250 or more employees are required to produce an annual report with data about their gender pay gap. The report will contain information about:
- The percentage of men and women in each hourly pay quarter;
- Average gender pay gap for hourly pay;
- Median gender pay gap for hourly pay;
- The percentage of men and women receiving bonus pay;
- Average gender pay gap for bonus pay; and
- Median gender pay gap for bonus pay.
Having been required to gather and report on this information, it is useful for employers to also analyse this data to identify the root causes of their pay gap.
Whilst it’s not compulsory to report if you have under 250 staff, it’s good practice to complete the exercise and analyse the results. This will take time to complete, but by starting the process today, it will help you to identify areas of improvement to create a more inclusive and productive working environment.
Run, or start planning, a staff survey. HR Directors are encouraged to engage with employees to identify any issues which could be contributing to the gender pay gap or making the workplace less inclusive for a particular gender. Informal surveys and regular meetings with action groups can allow employees to communicate what they feel would help them feel more supported.
Remind employees of your equality and diversity policy and any training opportunities
All employers should have an up-to-date equality and diversity policy, which is readily available to all employees. Regular training should be given to educate employees about what discrimination is, how to recognise it and how to report it. Educating employees on discrimination and how unconscious bias affects employees/potential employees is one of the first steps to preventing discrimination in the workplace.
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