In review: Gender Pay Gap Reporting. “Look under the data to understand the narrative in your own workplace and be bold about retelling it to leadership.”

In review: Gender Pay Gap Reporting. “Look under the data to understand the narrative in your own workplace and be bold about retelling it to leadership.”

Compared to the paperwork on GDPR, GPG could seem to some like an almost fond, distant memory. And, after all, there’s a whole year ahead of us until we have to do it again, right?

Sadly, it’s more complicated than that. In fact, next year’s results will be based on the year just gone. The year where we were all so busy trying to smash GPG reporting and GDPR that increasing HR capability on progressing these issues could have taken a bit of a back seat.

Monique Beaulieu and Isabel Pooley lead on Grant Thornton’s offering on gender pay gap reporting and have spent the last couple of years assisting Grant Thornton’s clients with their reporting and understanding of their gender pay gap obligations and results.

Here, they look at what we need to do for 2019 and beyond.

The HR World (HRW): Let’s start with a quick look back on your take on the reaction of business.

MB: It’s human nature to leave deadlines to the last minute and this was no exception. Despite having a considerable amount of time to report, most companies did it within the last week, if not day. You could tell those who had gotten a handle on it and had the right advice as generally they were on it.

I was, maybe unfairly but still pleasantly, surprised at how some traditional male dominated sectors like construction and logistics have placed this issue front and centre as a major problem to solve. Their message has been powerful and has come from the top, which is when you see real change happen.

IP: I’ve been impressed with how many businesses we work with are really committed to changing and overcoming diversity politics, which can become a bit worthy and not really part of the commercial culture. Most leaders we are in touch with increasingly see this as a commercial opportunity and that’s where you’ll get the step change that’s really needed taking place.

HRW: And the reaction of the media – what’s your overall opinion on the response?

MB: The anticipation was palpable. The standout moment for me was when the BBC story broke, which became a media-on-media story. Usually, the media can be shocked at business or vice versa but this really highlighted how complex and historic the issue of differential pay is.

IP: Yes, people and organisations were being ‘outed’ all over the place. While this raised the profile, it also risked over simplifying the message. It became an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ trial by data, which became in danger of pigeon holing this important insight process.

HRW: How effective do you think the GPG process has been in highlighting the issue?

MB: So, this is the big question. We’ve known about the pay gap for a long time. The reporting of it gives us evidence in terms of initial data. But we must remember this was the first time it’s been done. Yes, there will be irregularities and mistakes – but most importantly we should not be blindsided by this one set of stats. There are many reasons for this gap and to simply look at these figures year-on-year without really getting to the grips of the underlying causes, that’s a big risk.

IP: Yes, if it’s seen as an annual compliance reporting exercise it will not change anything really. We have to commit to see long term. I think next year there is a risk that people are going to be a bit disillusioned because not much will have changed, or even in some cases the figures may be worse than this year.

HRW: What does this mean for the future? Does it have a tick box exercise feel to it now that it’s done? Will it make a difference?

MB: I don’t think there’s been enough innovative and truly progressive thinking gone on. Diversity, flexible and return to work policies – these have been around for quite a while now and so I think people are starting to come to terms with the fact things are more complicated. Ultimately, its success has been in creating what is effectively now ‘base camp’ for us to plan and scale up from.

IP: A good example of how thinking needs to change is the fact that lots of grad rec programmes are hiring on a really diverse and equal basis, but as people move on in their careers they make different decisions and we need to understand more about how they are supported in this. We need to ask bigger questions around why and how this is happening and understand the impact on business. If this happens and there are improved outcomes then, yes, it has made a difference.

HRW: What are the top things people need to be aware of now to help them achieve the kinds of results you’re speaking of?

MB: Think long-term. People will usually just think about what they have just done and move on. Next year’s results are already done and may come as a shock, so you need a plan in place to prepare for reporting the year after.

And look under the data to understand the narrative in your own workplace and be bold about retelling it to leadership with a solutions-based approach.

IP: Understand where your achievements are and make sure they are part of your storytelling. This will help you progress in a way that everyone understands to try and achieve a happy ending that’s not just about increased percentile on a singular data stream.

Monique Beaulieu is Partner and Head of Reward of Advisory Service at Grant Thornton and Isabel Pooley is Associate Director, Reward Advisory Services. The pair have led for the company on the GPR reporting. To find out more:

Author: Monique Beaulieu and Isabel Pooley

Posted on: Tuesday 14th Aug 2018