Gender equality is an issue high up on the political agenda – not just in the UK but globally.  A report published by the World Economic Forum last year highlighted the scale of the problem. It found that women are paid half of what men receive on average across the world and that it will take 170 years for equality to be achieved.

In the UK, our government has set a more ambitious target. It wants to achieve equality within a generation. Despite pay discrimination being made illegal in this country in 1970, the government estimates that there is still a gender pay gap, estimated to be 18%.

To help reduce this, several steps have been taken which include introducing the right to share parental leave and flexible working arrangements. Requiring companies with a workforce of more than 250 people to publish their own gender pay gap is just the latest action in this process.

This has placed a large administrative burden on businesses and, for those producing this type of analysis for the first time, it will be quite an undertaking. For reasons that I highlighted in a previous blog, companies will need to allow adequate time to conduct a thorough analysis and take any necessary actions before they publish their figures.

Where next?

Undoubtedly there will be many lessons learnt in this process and it’s vital that we don’t forget them. This will not be the last time we are asked to produce these figures. Furthermore, this may be just the first of many requests to conduct analysis of the workforce to ensure equality. After all, gender is not the only fair pay issue currently on the political agenda.

For example, before finalising the regulations for the gender pay gap, the government took the decision to amend the regulations to include casual workers who are considered to be part of the ‘gig economy’. There has been a huge ground swell of both political and media attention being placed on whether many of these workers are receiving the national minimum wage.

Contentious pay issues of this nature extend to any number of worker characteristics. Beyond gender, there is also a focus on age discrimination, regional bias, religion, the rights of LGBT workers and more.

Further pay gap reporting

The experience of reporting on the gender pay gap has put everyone on a learning curve.

It will be essential going forward to record information in a logical way that enables you to easily analyse employee data. Having information in the right data streams will help slice and dice the statistics produced.

You’ll then be able to compare numerous factors to understand what contributes towards deciding their pay, such as qualifications, experiences, performance, etc. Making sure you are storing all this information, and have systems in place to analyse those figures, will go a long way to avoiding further pay reporting headaches in years to come.