HR Expert: Gender Equality
My client has not had to publish a gender pay gap report but is keen to do more to promote gender equality at work. What measures can they introduce?

Whilst your client does not need to produce a mandatory gender pay gap report, it is commendable that they are looking to explore new ways to promote gender equality in their organisation.

An initial step for your client would be to examine their workplace policies and consider how truly inclusive these are. Most organisations will have an equal opportunities policy which, amongst other things, outlines their obligation to treat individuals no less favourably on account of their gender. Creating a separate equal pay policy may also be useful, especially as this relates to the gender pay gap. The same goes for family friendly policies such as those on flexible working and shared parental leave which, when used correctly, can improve career opportunities for working mothers

Your client should understand that it is unlawful to pay women less than men who work in the same position, where the reason for the disparity is gender. However, there may be less obvious instances where women are unfairly paid less than male counterparts, despite not working in the exact same role. It is key to remember that individuals must be paid equally for work that is similar in nature, rated as equivalent and of equal value. Therefore, your client should cast a critical eye over company pay practices on this basis to ensure a truly gender balanced workplace.

How your client advertises vacancies can also influence gender equality. During recruitment, it is important to remain as fair and inclusive as possible, meaning your client should avoid using gender specific terms in job advertisements or discounting applicants purely based on their gender. Decision makers should also be trained on unconscious bias to ensure this does not hinder the interview process and refrain from asking candidates questions about previous salaries, as basing wage offers on these responses is believed to perpetuate the gender pay gap in some instances.

Your client should take a similar approach with internal promotions and decisions should be based solely on individuals’ skills and experience. It is advisable to create a clear and transparent checklist that employees will be required to meet in order to be considered for promotion, thereby making the process as fair as possible and ensuring women have equal opportunity for career progression.

The everyday working environment can also have a big impact on gender equality and it is important to create a welcoming and inclusive workplace. Therefore, your client should work to create a supportive culture, which actively discourages offensive workplace banter and ‘toxic masculinity’, by having a reliable grievance and disciplinary procedures for dealing with harassment.

Although organisations with less than 250 employees are not required to produce a gender pay gap report there are still other measures they can adopt to improve gender equality. As such, by incorporating some of the above steps your client should be able to successfully improve the gender balance of their own organisation.

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