Bridging the Gender Pay Gap – WISE CXO Breakfast 27 June 2018, hosted by Network Rail
Gender pay gap reporting has been a catalyst for conversations within organisations and beyond about the participation of women in business. When WISE looked at the published data for our corporate members, we found huge variation. Companies have not reported consistently, some report in different entities and although the reports give percentages, the actual number of women in each pay quartile is not reported. All of which means we cannot make meaningful comparisons between companies or make any definitive statement about the pay gap within WISE members compared to the pay gap in non-member companies.
What is clear is that if companies are serious about tackling the gender pay gap, they need to understand the data, set an ambition about where they want the company to be and by when; make a plan to deliver it and as leaders, ensure the plan is understood and taken forward across the business.
There was agreement across the room at the recent WISE executive level breakfast that leadership is critical, with lively discussion about how to make a real impact. ‘This won’t change in one generation’ was met by nods across the room, and yet the mood was very positive, as ideas and practical examples were shared.
Helen Wollaston, WISE’s CEO opened the discussion by stating the need to demonstrate commitment by showing positive results “…Glossy initiatives come and go, some gain more traction than others. The gender pay gap has shone a light on what happens in practice and given fresh impetus for change…”.
Our host for the day, Alison Rumsey, Group HR Director of Network Rail, said “there is no silver bullet – one size does not fit all” and shared insights from their 20by20 campaign to achieve 20% women across the business by 2020.
Steven Fox, CEO of BAM Nuttall UK and WISE Board member walked us through BAM Nuttall’s initiatives to support women’s success through WISE’s Ten Steps framework to create a robust plan to plot a path to the top for women, which he uses as a tool to measure progress and hold managers to account. “The Ten Steps are the backbone of everything we do”
We split into groups to discuss four key challenges:
- Data: what data do leaders need to collect?
- Ambition: setting targets and timeline
- Plan: what works to drive change
- Leadership: how to make it stick across the business
Key learnings which came out of the discussion showed how WISE’s Ten Steps were being used in practice, with suggestions including:
Know your data
- Create and track a monthly dashboard for gender parity and pay gap for each part of the business so that every senior manager can track their progress
- Monitor retention and progression by gender
- Monitor average pay rise by gender.
- Compare average pay rise for f/t and p/t employees and by location
- Send out a strong message by setting visible targets.
- Targets galvinise attention and action, make it easier to monitor progress and hold people to account. “People in our industry are used to targets”
- Introduce “lead-in behavioural targets” to deliver the big target – eg 50% of those interviewed for senior roles will be women
- Be prepared to be open and honest if these targets are not met, understanding and explaining the reasons
- Practical initiatives such as returners programmes (Network Rail described a successful pilot for surveyor roles)
- Reverse mentoring or facilitated dialogue to develop understanding of leaders about the experiences of women within the business
- Link progress against diversity and inclusion KPIs to bonus payments for everyone on the Board
- Publish the gender pay gap report on intranet to encourage internal debate and exchange of ideas on how to move forward
- Make gender parity a personal issue – adapt a succession plan that includes senior female leaders
- Review when items relating to Diversity and inclusion appear on the agenda of meetings. If always at the end of the meeting, this sends a message
- Keep talking about the issue on public platforms. Share stories and repeat messages consistently
- De-bunk the myth of superwoman. Women who have reached leadership roles should be honest about the challenges they have faced. Focusing only on the positives lacks credibility.
The companies attending agreed it would be helpful if WISE could collate data to share with the group. There was agreement from those present to share their data to enable effective benchmarking. WISE will develop a standard format for collecting data to measure progress towards increasing the number of women in the top pay quartile, which is key to closing the gender pay gap.