You are currently reading Issue 159: Gender Pay Gap, March 2023

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Pursuing progress: Moving the dial on the gender pay gap

Claire McCartney, Senior Resourcing and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD

Claire McCartney CIPD

Claire McCartney is the resourcing and inclusion policy adviser at the CIPD, specialising in the areas of diversity and inclusion, flexible working, resourcing and talent management. Claire has also conducted research into meaning and trust at work, age diversity, workplace carers and enterprise, having worked on a number of international projects and written several reports and articles, as well as regularly presenting at seminars and conferences. Prior to joining the CIPD, Claire was principal researcher at Roffey Park where she conducted research projects into a variety of topics including Roffey Park’s annual Management Agenda survey, work-life balance, flexible working, employee volunteering, talent management, and diversity.

Claire McCartney CIPD
Claire McCartney

“Gender pay gap progress would be boosted if all organisations included a narrative and action plan alongside their data and took steps to bring about meaningful change.”

Educational background and career to date

I have a Master’s degree in information studies and a separate Master’s degree in social research methods. I started my career as a researcher at Roffey Park Institute, progressing to acting head of research, and then joined the research team at CIPD exploring issues relating to resourcing and talent planning. I worked as a consultant for a few years before re-joining CIPD and working in the Policy Department as a senior adviser for resourcing and inclusion.

Championing better work and working lives

The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. We are experts on the world of work and career partners to almost 160,000 members around the world and our purpose is to champion better work and working lives. I sit within the public policy team engaging with policymakers on a range of important and interconnected issues like gender equality, flexible working, carers, and creating menopause-friendly workplaces.

Gender pay gap reporting in the UK

Since April 2018, organisations with 250 or more employees in England, Scotland and Wales must publish their gender pay gap figures annually. Any gender pay gap is likely to reflect a combination of internal and external factors that need to be examined and explained to employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Creating an accompanying narrative and action plan lets people know what action employers are planning to take to address the gap, and that they are serious about doing so. The gender pay gap among full-time employees in April 2022 was 8.3%; this was 7.7% in April 2021 and 9.0% in April 2019 (pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic); however, the ONS recommends looking at the longer-term trend. Among all employees, the gender pay gap decreased to 14.9%, from 15.1% in 2021, but is still below the levels seen in 2019 (17.4%).

While the Government has no plans to change the current gender pay gap reporting requirements, it is launching a transparency pilot where participating employers commit to listing salary details on job adverts and removing questions about salary history during recruitment.

Potential impacts of the recent UK budget announcements

mother and baby
Image by wirestock on Freepik

The potential impacts of the recent budget announcements on the gender pay gap are significant. The plan to extend free childcare for children from the age of nine months is a potential game changer as it will enable many more working parents, particularly women, to return to work much earlier than they can currently. This can help avoid the loss of skills and confidence that can be caused by spending too long out of employment and boost gender equality. As will the boost to wrap-around care, but both schemes must be properly funded to succeed.

The proposed reforms to childcare support for parents on Universal Credit are also welcome and should help to make childcare more affordable and returning to work more achievable for all.

Potential to go further

We would have also liked the Government to set out reforms to parental leave and pay, and in particular, an enhanced statutory paternity or partner offering of six weeks leave at or near the full rate of pay. We think reforms to parental leave would help to deliver more balance and choice over the distribution of caring responsibilities and better reflect the changing nature of modern families.

In relation to flexible working, we’ve seen big strides made around hybrid working but many non-office workers have been left behind when it comes to flexible working. We would like the Government to develop a challenge fund for businesses in frontline sectors to trial and track progress around flexible ways of working and the impact on business and employee metrics.

Boosting gender pay gap progress

Gender pay gap progress would be boosted if all organisations included a narrative and action plan alongside their data and took steps to bring about meaningful change. The Behavioural Insights Team also recommends a range of approaches to further drive gender equality, including:

  • Setting internal targets for gender representation and equality
  • Offering flexible working in job adverts
  • Using structured interviews for recruitment and promotion
  • Increasing transparency to promotion, pay and reward processes

See also the CIPD’s guidance on inclusive recruitment, written by the BIT.

Stay ahead of this agenda

If you’d like to follow this agenda you can sign up for the CIPD’s weekly e-update which alerts you to all of our new work and our CIPD Voice Newsletter which hones in specifically on our Policy work, and also follow us also on Twitter @CIPD, @CIPDPolicy, @CMcCartneyCIPD, and also Linked In to interact with us and feed into our work.

Coming up next

I’m looking forward to attending a Ministerial roundtable with the new Menopause Employment champion, Helen Tomlinson. This will be a great opportunity to feed into the work we have been doing on menopause and recommendations to bring about positive change. I’m also looking forward to our Festival of Work conference in June which showcases the best of workplace practices and new ideas and will be free to all this year!

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