August 01, 2018 7:18 AM

How to Tackle the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap exists, and although governments across the globe are taking measures to address the current state of inequality, it will be quite some time before they catch up with Iceland, who many consider to be the world leader on gender equality. But as an employer or recruiter, should we wait for legislation to pass before doing something about the situation? We think you know the answer to that question.

So what exactly can you do to help tackle the gender pay gap? Is it enough to simply offer female candidates the same wage as their male counterparts or is there a little more to it?


Mind the gap

According to the Global Gender Report 2017, women in the UK earn just 75.2% of what men earn when working in similar roles. In the US that drops to 72.2% while in China it’s as low as 67.6%.

Now, there are many arguments suggesting that the gender pay gap is there for a reason. But the one that is often touted as the primary cause of unequal pay is the fact that female employees may miss some time through maternity leave.

This is patently false as there are countless women who don’t have children or who take minimal time off and who still receive less pay than their male colleagues.

The stats above don’t lie so let’s see what can we do to address this continuing disparity in pay.


Do a little research

How you help your employees transition to a new position in another company is just as important as how you welcome them. So with this in mind, it’s essential that you have a defined offboarding process that includes an exit interview. And no, a handshake and a goodbye really aren’t enough.

Determine why your female employees decide to leave their role paying close attention to any remarks on pay or disparity with their colleagues.

A higher number of women leaving their roles could be a clear indication that there is either an issue with pay or the company culture. Either way, learning the real reasons for their departure is the only way you can first identify whether or not an issue exists and then take steps to find a solution.


Encourage paternal leave


As we mentioned earlier, one of the perceived reasons for the gender pay gap is maternal leave. As a genuine reason for pay disparity this argument holds no weight yet it persists in the minds of many employers.

The best way to counteract this is to make yourself aware of the company's  responsibilities, and encourage men to share parental leave, taking as much time off as their partners do when a child is born.

A changing attitude towards parental leave is essential as this can help ‘normalize’ maternity leave and any other leave a woman takes by making it something that both genders do.

Employers are in a perfect position to help kickstart this change in attitude by ensuring that their staff not only receive their parental leave but actually take the time off.


Offer the ability to work remotely

Childcare is a considerable expense for those with young children and offering working mothers the opportunity to work from home is the perfect solution. Your employee remains on the team, hitting her targets, and has less financial burden placed on her shoulders.

This is another measure that can counteract the argument that women are paid less due to the time they take off. Again, not only is this a pretty amazing benefit to those with young children but it also helps change the attitudes of those stuck in that ‘traditional’ mindset.


Put a clear salary structure in place

Although this takes minimal effort to put in place, it’s surprising how many companies don’t have a defined salary structure. In fact, the vast majority of companies rely on a manager’s discretion to determine any rise in pay.

This can be problematic in that those who are good at their job may find themselves earning less than a colleague who has a good relationship with their superiors or is better at negotiating.

Of course, we understand that it’s extremely difficult to keep everyone on the same pay at all times but with a set range to stay within, differences in pay can be kept to an acceptable minimum.


Remove unconscious bias from negotiations

This is where it gets a little difficult. When employees or candidates enter a salary negotiation there is often an unconscious bias in the minds of the employer or manager which tells them that a man is the main breadwinner and therefore more deserving of a higher salary.

In the cold light of day, we all know that this is untrue, but it is worth discussing the point with hiring managers and recruiters. Remind them that they should never allow a candidate or employee’s gender become a factor when discussing pay.

The simple act of jogging their memory should be enough to help them remove that unconscious bias from the negotiation table.


Of course, the best way we can help fight the gender pay gap would be to offer all employees the same rate of pay, but with experience, qualifications, and the salaries of your current staff to take into account, this is virtually impossible.

However, as a recruiter or hiring manager, you have the power to bring change and equality to your workplace by ensuring that all your candidates start off on an equal footing regardless of their gender.

How is your company tackling the gender pay gap? Are your female employees happy with their current salaries? Perhaps it’s time to take an anonymous survey and see what your staff really think about their pay. Your employees (even potential ones) are your most valuable resource whether they are male or female so treat them fairly and pay them equally.

Have a look to our diversity strategy and learn where to start. Remember, your efforts no matter how small could have a long-lasting effect on people’s attitudes towards the gender pay gap.

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