By midnight on Wednesday 4 April, all companies employing over 250 staff in the UK were required to report on their Gender Pay Gap. The reporting received from over 10,000 UK employers paints a fairly holistic picture of the Gender Pay Gap in practice, with the average median pay gap across all companies reported at 9.7 per cent with 78 per cent of employers paying men more than women.
When the Prime Minister announced the methodology in January of last year many were skeptical, but whatever the shortcomings, what we have seen is vast improvements in transparency which has enabled frank and open conversation underpinned by data. There are clearly some success stories within the tech sector. Take techUK member FDM Group, who has achieved a zero per cent median gender pay gap. Congratulations are certainly in order for FDM, but there is still much work to be done for others to achieve this.
The data has shone a light on the pay gap that persists in the UK’s tech sector, so what steps can tech employers take to remedy it?
What is clear is the need to change the culture of the work place to tackle historical inequalities. More must be done to ensure that workplaces become more inclusive, for example by promoting shared parental leave, better use of flexible working and support with other childcare requirements. Furthermore, employers must be better educated on the benefits of a diverse workforce. Not only do female employees bring a different skill set to the table than their male counterparts, they also improve business success - one woman on a board reduces the chance of bankruptcy by 20 per cent and this increases with every additional female board member. Taking steps to address the conscious and unconscious biases of today’s workplace will go some way in closing the gender pay gap in the tech sector and across industry more widely.
Similarly, more concrete measures can be created to encourage women who have taken career breaks to re-enter the jobs market in mid to senior level positions similar to the positions they held before their leave of absence. 36 per cent of women returners surveyed said they believe they would be demoted when they returned to work. In an attempt to change this perception encourage women to reenter the labour market, techUK has created its own Returners Hub. The Hub consists of various resources for women thinking about reentering work, and includes a compiled list of some of our members’ Returners Programmes - training courses of varying lengths with the aim of securing permanent employment on completion. Such courses provide a great stepping stone for women seeking to reenter the workforce in mid-senior positions, thus partly remedying the gender pay gap created when women reenter the workforce at a more junior level.
Furthermore, industry sharing of best practices can play an important role in encouraging companies to take action to improve diversity across their organisation. The tech sector is currently leading through the Tech Talent Charter. The Charter requires signatories to take five pledges all of which seek to improve diversity within their organisation including a commitment to work collectively with other signatories to develop a best practice framework. Since its creation in November 2017, the Charter has had over 125 signatories including the UK Government, Cisco and Sage. Committing to transparency and data sharing measures beyond mandatory Gender Pay Gap reporting ensures improving diversity remains at the forefront of business conversations.
Many companies in the tech sector are working to correct their gender pay gap by taking some of these steps. But this is not exclusively a tech sector problem, and employers across industries can implement these measures to remedy the realities of Wednesday’s results and ensure progress is made ahead of the 2018/19 annual report. We have seen from FDM Group that it is possible to close the Gender Pay Gap and whilst this will take time for many employers, what is important is that industry is taking the appropriate steps to see change.