Equal pay should head HR’s agenda

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Equal pay should head HR’s agendaOn 3 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Martha How explains the dangers of ignoring a serious gap in gender payToo many organisations are waiting to be forced – through legislation orlitigation – to address equal-pay issues. Is it that they are confident thatthey are doing everything right, or are they simply daunted by the prospect ofconducting an equal-pay audit? They clearly haven’t realised that if they donothing, the costs involved in complying with future legislation or judgmentscould be much greater and outside of their control (News, 20 August). Whatever the reason, their reticence flies in the face of much-usedcorporate statements such as ‘people are among our most valuable assets’.Perhaps companies are failing to see the benefits that equal-pay reviews canbring to an organisation as a whole. Addressing equal pay and the range of organisational issues that may emergeduring a review of this nature, would place businesses in an enviable positionof being able to turn those issues to a competitive advantage. The ability toattract, retain and motivate staff from the widest range will help addressskills shortages, and demonstrating diversity in the organisation should resultin increased motivation and productivity. By actively addressing the issues that arise, an organisation can helpfoster an internal culture that supports the external brand. Compare this withthe impact of negative publicity on an organisation’s employer brand – justlook at the number of equal pay cases appearing in the press over the past fewmonths. Employer reluctance may also be fuelled by a fear of what is involved inconducting an equal pay review, even though this could be an integral part ofthe reward strategy. If they adopt a practical and risk-based approach, theyneed not make a mountain out of a molehill. Organisations should first establish an awareness of the importance of equalpay in the workplace, and then investigate circumstances that may suggest ahigh risk of equal pay issues. An example might be large gender disparities inworking groups, perhaps resulting from a merger or acquisition, recent orotherwise. Circumstances such as these may have led to disparate terms andconditions, or perhaps the organisation is at different stages of harmonisationor integration. There could be varying ranges of bonus awards, allocated onsubjective criteria. Clearly, employers need to be prepared to address theissues highlighted. Help is at hand too, with the CIPD, Equal Opportunities Commission, WorkFoundation and HR consultants all offering support. There is also the expertiseof the Equal Pay Forum, which offers free membership and aims to bring togetherorganisations that want to work towards equal pay. The Government is taking the issue seriously, following the Kingsmill Reviewof Women’s Employment and Pay, but is only encouraging organisations to meetvoluntary targets in this area. If this approach fails, the government couldswitch to a mandatory approach. It has suggested that it could introduce arequirement to report on human capital management issues in annual reports andaccounts, with the Kingsmill report recommending an inquiry be set up to adviseon this option. Wouldn’t it be more effective and proactive, to carry out areview in a timeframe that suits the particular organisation? While nobody suggests that employers are intent on paying women less thanmen – and it is widely recognised that discrimination in reward systems is notthe only reason for the gender pay gap – equal pay is now firmly in thespotlight. Pressure from the Government, Equal Opportunities Commission andunions is increasing and, more importantly, there are too many advantages inacting now for organisations to bury their heads in the sand. Martha How is a director in the PricewaterhouseCoopers HR consultingpractice Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more