Ahead of the enforcement of gender pay gap reporting on 6 April, Dr Sumita Ketkar, Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Professional Development at Westminster Business School, believes the legislation is a positive step towards solving a problem of ‘mindsets’ when it comes to equal pay.
“As companies with 250 and more employees gear up towards the new regulation on gender pay gap reporting, critics have widely debated its likely success. Nonetheless, it is largely agreed that the upcoming reporting requirement takes us a step closer towards greater transparency and reduced wage inequality. Some companies have already started to release their gender pay gap figures. Last week Schroders PLC was the first FTSE 100 company to reveal theirs (33 percent), explaining the nature and cause of their gap was due to segregation of men in the high earning top jobs. As more companies publish their data, this will bring into focus the real issue – the stark underrepresentation of women in top positions as well as in the high-paying sectors. Some of this is due to the so-called ‘motherhood penalty’, particularly for women over 30, but also to society’s perception of women ‘roles’.
“We’ve known this for a while. However, the new regulation should facilitate a more open conversation about the pay gap issue as well as its underlying causes. Indeed the fact that gender wage inequality for people in their 20s has drastically reduced is proof of the slow but steady way in which our society is evolving. As the spotlight will be on companies – especially the ‘biggies’ – it will be interesting to see if substantial reputational damage will be caused by the mandatory reporting and whether this will impact hiring and employee engagement, as well as overall brand in the long term.”
“Even if gender pay gap reporting doesn’t catapult companies into ‘setting things right’, it will certainly accelerate the conversation that started with the Equal Pay Law in 1970. Calls for equal sharing of parental responsibilities, improved flexible working provisions and mentoring for women to reach the top are becoming louder and clearer. A holistic approach is needed towards solving a problem of ‘mindsets’ that have been embedded in our social fabric for too long. With more stakeholders including men roped into the ‘feminism’ narrative, it may just be that good times lie ahead.”