Using flexible working to close your gender pay gap
There’s no question that the gender pay gap is firmly on the agenda. Since 6th April 2017, all businesses and charities with more than 250 employees have been legally required to collect data on the gap between the average hourly pay of the men and women who work there. And they need to report on their figures - and ideally, their action plan for closing the gap - by 4th April each year.
Why has this happened? The short answer is, because it’s still a problem. Although the gender pay gap has narrowed in recent years, it’s still very much there: a 2016 assessment from the Institute of Fiscal Studies put it at 18%, and Deloitte have predicted that, at the current rate of change, we won’t hit true pay parity until 2069. The government have therefore concluded that mandatory reporting will help get us there sooner.
What this means for your organisation
Closing the gender pay gap will have a positive effect on the workplace as a whole in many ways, from basic issues of fairness and the benefits of a diverse workforce to the importance of having pathways that support women into senior roles. But for employers whose gaps remain stubbornly wide, the new rules present a reputational risk. Essentially, your ability to attract and retain the best talent could be affected if your figures indicate that you’re not a fair employer.
Tackling the gap through flexibility
The good news is, there’s a simple solution to tackling the gender gap head on: introducing or improving flexible working practices at your organisation. We've explained this in detail here.
And we're not the only ones who hold this view. According to the Women and Equalities Committee’s 2016 report:
“Flexible working for all lies at the heart of addressing the gender pay gap… A large part of the gender pay gap is down to women’s concentration in part-time work that doesn’t make use of their skill…. Old-fashioned approaches to flexibility in the workplace and a lack of support for those wishing to re-enter the labour market are also stopping employers from making the most of women’s talent and experience.”
So for employers who are keen to address their gender pay gap, taking action to improve their flexible credentials is an excellent place to start.
Making flexibility work for you
Fortunately, there are a wide range of flexible options for you to consider. Part-time, remote working and job shares are perhaps the most common – and many top employers vouch for their success. But there may be other, less well-known routes that would suit you; for example, if your work is seasonally pressured, term-time working or another kind of annualised contract might suit you and your employees brilliantly.
And it’s not just about offering flexibility to your current employees. Our research shows that there are around 8.7 million full-time workers in the UK who want to work flexibly; but currently only 8.7% of quality jobs are advertised as being open to flexibility at the point of hire. And our experience at Timewise Jobs has indicated that if you’re upfront about the possibility of flexibility when recruiting, you’ll have a wider pool of talented, experienced people to choose from, and will likely be an employer of choice for highly skilled candidates too.
So by taking flexible working seriously, both for current and prospective employees, you can’t help but improve your gender pay gap and diversity figures, as well as improving your profits and boosting your productivity. The new rules may be an obligation; but they offer a real opportunity for smart employers to gain a competitive advantage too.