Posted by: Gareth Evans

Posted on: .

“Is your organisation ready for Gender Pay Gap Reporting?”

Oakleaf Partnership hosted a highly topical Gender Pay Gap Reporting Breakfast at Lloyd’s of London last week. Charlotte Myers, Director of LMA Academy & Market Talent Development at Lloyd's Market Association co-hosted, and we were also delighted to have Adrian Porter, Director of Reward & Performance at Virgin Media and Chris Woodman, Founder of Leadenhall Consulting, as our key speakers.

There is a nervousness in the outside world and the press at a time when the Financial Services sector is under increasing scrutiny, so we felt it was an opportune moment to bring together some of our clients from a range of different organisations across Financial Services.

Chris Woodman highlighted the caution adopted by Financial Services organisations around Gender Pay Gap Reporting - 1,200 have reported, with 9,500 still to go. Specialist insurance “has been like the Wild West” when it came to methodologies for measuring pay and that Gender Pay Gap Reporting “will focus people’s minds on this at last”.

Chris looked at measurable objectives designed to add more clarity to the process and bring a consistent way of working forward. Organisations need to:

  • Calculate the gap
  • Conduct a more detailed analysis on compensation
  • Detailed analysis of organisational data
  • Respond to findings
  • Develop a plan and communicate strategy

Adrian Porter gave a fascinating talk illustrating the innovative report he prepared (which was referenced by the Prime Minister and Equalities Minister), and was the reason why Virgin Media submitted their report early. Adrian’s report was an A3 one page document, sent to 200 UK sites.

Virgin Media wanted to own the headlines, in the press and in their own company. They focused on internal communications first regarding the Gender Pay Gap, educating their workforce. Communications from Virgin Media were ‘straight up’, making them open to response and discussion.

Adrian’s colleague Tiffany Watson, Director of Communications at Virgin Media, added “If you have a gap where you can share great stories about positivity, people gravitate to this more. If you can communicate what your strategy is and are able to give examples and showcases, the figure won’t be such a focal point, as people will focus on the positive message”. Companies have to lead with the narrative.

Interestingly, of the 18% gap Virgin Media reported, when they looked at the same jobs in the same function, at the same level, the gap is much lower.

Adrian highlighted that Virgin Media understood their data and were very honest in explaining it. He talked about the importance of “gap reporting as opposed to window dressing” and the patience needed to affect real change. If organisations can get to 50:50 gender representation at Board level, better decisions are made and then multiple numbers of senior and mid management roles can change, all of which starts to make a huge difference. He said changing the gap by 1-2% every year “would result in a seismic shift”.

He talked about looking at a road map for each function to attain more equality – HR and sales vary wildly in their male:female leadership ratios as an example.

Gender bias, unfortunately, is still out there. An example of an approach to changing Gender Pay issues lies in the US. California, Massachusetts and New York have already adapted to a policy whereby interviewers don’t discuss prior salaries with applicants. The aim is to avoid the ratcheting up of salaries based on prior base salary information. Looking at attraction strategies, visual role models and branding change with robust internal checks on all steps of hiring processes are all areas where change can continue to be made.

It is inevitable that the Financial Services sector will be in the headlines around Gender Pay, and the discussion around the table was how could this be presented as a positive. It’s a superb opportunity to take action, and it will be interesting to see where we are a year from now. We will run another event next year to follow up on this.

Please do contact me on if you would be interested in joining us at our next event.

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