The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has published new gender pay gap guidance, in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), ahead of the 2021 reporting deadline, with the organisations warning that the Covid-19 pandemic had disproportionately affected women.
Organisations of 250 or more employees must publish their gender pay gap (GPG) every year, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak, enforcement of GPG reporting in 2020 was suspended. While enforcement will resume in October 2021, fears remain that action around the gender pay gap could have been de-prioritised by businesses, despite clear evidence that women have been disproportionately disadvantaged during the pandemic.
Research collated by the House of Commons has shown that women are more likely to be in sectors shut down by Covid, are more likely to have lost their job or been furloughed, and are taking on the majority of housework and childcare. CMI research from February this year has also shown the challenges that working mothers face in the workplace; they are more likely to be in communication less than once a week with their manager than UK employees overall (29% compared to 23%).
Latest figures show that just over 5,000 employers – out of the approximately 12,500 in scope – have reported their gender pay gap figures ahead of the reporting deadline on 4th October 2021.
The new toolkit from the CMI and EHRC, the body responsible for enforcing the UK’s equality legislation, provides real-life case studies from business leaders, alongside a list of evidence-based actions to help employers take practical steps to address gender equality in the workplace. These include:
- Anonymising CVs and application forms
- Developing mentoring schemes for women to build skills and enable development
- Providing a clear brief, including diversity targets, to any recruitment consultants and executive search firms
- Advertising jobs at all levels as open to flexible working from day one
- Actively promoting shared parental leave to staff and enhancing the statutory minimum paternity leave
Ann Francke, CEO of the CMI said:
“As businesses scrambled to adapt to the impact of the pandemic, the suspension of gender pay gap reporting may have been understandable, but the evidence is now clear that women’s earnings and career prospects have been disproportionately affected by Covid. Right now, there has never been a more urgent time for awareness of the gender pay gap to be put back front and centre of policy making.
“Working alongside the EHRC, this new guidance is a significant step forward in outlining the practical steps businesses need to take to directly address the gender pay gap within their organisation. With the widespread move to more flexible working, this could provide more opportunities for women, but there are also real risks of women being left out of decision making and a reduction in the support that helps women progress their career. Now that the economic ship is being steadied, it would be a stain on our national conscience to allow a two-tier workforce to emerge in the UK.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, managers and leaders are faced with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build back better and more inclusively, but progress on the gender pay gap is at real risk of being taken for granted.”
Suzanne Baxter, EHRC Commissioner, commented:
“With the deadline for gender pay gap reporting fast approaching, employers should look beyond the numbers and start considering what action they are going to take to close their pay gaps. This is more important than ever. The pandemic has had specific effects on women in the workplace and if we want to continue the progress that has been made towards workplace equality, then action to address the causes of pay gaps needs to be a key priority.
“That is why we have teamed up with CMI to give employers a toolkit with the necessary information and practical steps they need to produce meaningful, time-bound action plans. It also includes case studies from business leaders who have seen the benefits of action plans, providing an insight into how they can help attract and retain talent, stay competitive and support a more inclusive, profitable economy.”
Further information on gender pay gap reporting and the full CMI and EHRC toolkit is available from the CMI website.