Gender Pay Gap Reporting – Why it’s The Modern Day Pandora’s Box

Published on: Fri 10 March 2017 by Admin

**This is a guest post from Michelle Gyimah from Equality Pays**

The gender pay gap.

Four words that if you typed into Google would spout thousands of articles on the subject. As I’m sitting writing this post, PwC recently announced that the gender pay gap will not close until 2041. This is depressing.

But there is a glimmer of light on the horizon. From 6th April 2017, firms with 250 employees or more will have to measure their gender pay and from April 2018 will need to publish it. Big deal, I here you say. Well not really. Why? Because the pay gap has been allowed to flourish due to secrecy and fear of talking about it. How many of you know what your peers earn? How many of you know what your firm’s pay gap is? If you’re in the private sector, there is a very high chance that you can’t answer the latter question. But from 2018 you will be able to.

So what makes this not just a ‘tick box exercise?’ Why is this like Pandora’s Box?

The gender pay gap is a symptom not a root cause

It’s easy to get fixated on the figure and think that it is the sum problem, but it’s not. It is a symptom of things that are not working in the workplace, so revealing the pay gap will force firms to confront the issues causing it.

The reasons for the pay gap are wide and varied so depending on what your data reveals, the root causes for it will be different for each firm. For some it may be due to the lack of senior part-time roles. For others it may be due to not having fixed salary bands or starting pay rates. For others it’ll be due to unfair promotion practices and unconscious bias. Whatever the root cause of your pay gap, it’s important to remember that once you have measured it, you will be expected to drill down to the root causes and do something about it.

We’re about to start asking more questions

Once your gender pay gap figure has been made public, what do you think will happen? Everyone will forget about it? No-one will be interested? No. Once the information is out there, there is no taking it back. You’ll have to publish the information on your company website and a government department website too, for a minimum of three years.

With this information out there for everyone to see, it’s likely that you’ll start to be asked questions. By your investors, consumers and employees. It makes good sense to start getting your communication plan in place to start to figure out how you’re going to handle questions.

We’ll be focusing on your narrative

While the pay gap measurement will be of interest, what people will really want to focus on is your narrative. Your narrative of why you have this pay gap and more importantly what you are going to do about it. People will be very interested in this as you’ll have to provide this information annually and they will want answers to their questions if they feel you are not doing enough to close the pay gap.

There will be no roll back or back track

Like Pandora’s Box, there is no roll back or putting it back in the box. Once this information is out, it’s out. Which means that you will have to finally deal with issues that you may have been brushing under the carpet for years. It may seem daunting, but in reality you have 2017 to start to make progress before it all goes public in 2018.


You can get a head start by prioritising this now. To cover all aspects of gender and equality, RightTrack Consultancy offer fantastic bespoke diversity & inclusion training. If you need help with assessing your pay gap, then get in touch with Equality Pays. We have collaborated with equal pay software company Gapsquare and Andrea Brewer Consulting to provide a bespoke end-to-end service to help firms meet the new pay gap reporting requirements.