Employers are important players in closing the gender pay gap and will reap the benefits when all staff are appropriately valued. Employers are more likely to see higher morale, better performance and engagement, and lower absenteeism if their employees know they are being paid and treated fairly. If an employer has a reputation for treating and paying their employees fairly, they are more likely to attract and retain top talent.
As an employer, what can I do?
Make gender diversity a business priority. Develop a gender diversity plan and treat it as a business imperative and not a ‘nice to have’ – lead from the top.
Be transparent. Have clear targets, measurement, and reporting – this is critical to building an effective gender diversity plan.
Review your staff data and see where problems lie. Recruitment, pay, professional development, progression, and role type are all important.
Ask yourself some important questions: Am I recruiting from a diverse talent pool? Do I use an even gender mix on interview panels? Are my remuneration, performance, and progression practices transparent and in line with equal pay best practice?
Encourage discussions with employees that seek to understand their ambitions and their perceptions of progression barriers. Some people think they won’t be promoted if they work part-time or can’t attend meetings after hours. Understand that people’s aspirations can change over time. Don’t assume that women aren’t as ambitious as men, especially if they have children.
Make a range of flexible work options a normal part of how you operate for all staff – this helps attract and retain people and reduces the risk that working flexibly (particularly part-time) will hinder career advancement. Flexible working hours can be especially effective in congested cities where travel times and childcare hours can make working standard hours more challenging.
Audit the type of work part-time workers are given. Are you only allocating the less-challenging routine work to part-time employees and therefore giving them fewer opportunities to gain experience that leads to promotion?
Encourage male employees to take parental leave and an equal share in parenting duties. This benefits everyone: child, father, and mother, as parenting responsibilities often fall unequally on working mothers.
Look outside the box at other ways you can support staff with caregiving responsibilities: a parent’s room, having a car park parents can book to use for caregiving responsibilities – the little things can have a big impact! They can also help with staff retention.
Know your organisation
You may see slightly different patterns of gender differences in your organisation. These can include:
- the numbers of men and women in your organisation
- starting salaries between men and women doing the same type of job
- the size of salary increases between men and women with the same performance ratings
- the types of roles men and women are employed in, for instance, women may be concentrated in lower paid support staff or back office roles, while men may be concentrated in higher paid technical roles or roles with responsibility for profits and losses
- the seniority of men and women, with more women in lower level staff and management positions and more men in higher management and leadership positions
- career and salary progression between staff who work part-time or take career breaks (most likely to be women) and those who do not
- the types of work assignments offered to men and women in the same roles, for instance men may be more likely to get high profile, challenging assignments that makes them better known to leaders in your organisation or to important clients - in other words the type of roles that lead to career progression.
Small businesses have different challenges in addressing the gender pay gap, especially limited resources. But it can also be a lot easier for smaller organisations to get senior leadership on the same path, and small changes can make a big difference.
Organisations don’t need to start from scratch. There are lots of resources that are tailored to businesses of all sizes. These include gender pay equity audit tools, diversity plan templates and step-by-step guides. Professional analysis services are also offered by remuneration specialists and accountants to help get organisations started.
Specifically for small businesses, the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency, in collaboration with EconomicSecurity4Women, has developed a three-step guide to address the gender pay gap, including a payroll analysis example. This is available here and is just as applicable in New Zealand.
Can you tell me who’s doing it well?
These three case studies give you some examples of flexible work in practice:
There are three major annual awards with profiles of the latest winners and what they’re doing on their websites.
- the YWCA Equal Pay Awards recognise employers who are moving to close gender pay gaps by monitoring pay inequities and developing targeted plans to address them
- the White Camellia Awards recognise commitment to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, an initiative that encourages gender equality in the workplace
- the Diversity Awards recognise organisations championing diversity in the workplace.
Maybe you could win one of these awards for closing your gender pay gap?
What gender pay equity resources are available?
The Ministry has some resources on flexible work. Many other organisations have resources available, including self-assessment tools and best practice guides to help measure progress, set targets and develop a gender diversity plan. These include:
- Diversity Works
- Global Women
- Human Rights Commission
- Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency
- Close the Gap (Scotland)
Professional analysis services are also offered by remuneration specialists and accountants.