The government’s announcement that businesses with more than 250 employees will have to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees has been given a cautious welcome by industry experts. Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general, began her response by praising the successful voluntary approach which had come about through the Lord Davies report, saying the achievements so far demonstrated the value of encouragement as opposed to using the law. “Addressing the gender pay gap is the right priority – and we should set a target for reducing it,” she says. “While we believe publishing pay gap data could be misleading, we will work with the government to ensure that rules on what is published are flexible enough to be relevant to each company.
“To see real progress, however, we need to challenge occupational stereotypes by encouraging more women into male dominated industries and investing in careers advice,” she says.
“Of course it is welcome that the government is introducing new legislation to introduce mandatory reporting on pay for larger organisations, with the purpose of closing the gender pay gap, but there is still a long way to go,” she said. “The Equality and Human Rights Commission has been calling for these changes for years. The legislation needs to ensure transparency and a real culture change within organisations, otherwise this may become just another tick-box exercise.
“There are also additional issues to address to ensure that women do not fall behind men in the workplace, such as the quality of part-time jobs and the full-time/part-time pay gap,” she continues, “the prohibitive costs of childcare; and any residual gender discrimination within organisations, whereby women are seen to be less committed to work than men. However, this is certainly a step in the right direction.”