Employers holding back on publishing gender pay for fear of standing out

Most employers have already calculated their pay gap, but research by XpertHR suggests they’re holding back on reporting their findings for fear of standing out if they publish early. Organisations with 250 or more employees have to publish their gender pay and bonus gaps by April 2018 in order to comply with Regulations that came into effect this year. However, with less than six months to go, only 6 percent of the estimated 4,000 employers covered by the new law have complied. Despite the low reporting rate to date, more than one in four ( 26.5 percent) mid-sized companies (those with 250-999 employees) and more than half (51.5 percent ) of larger companies (with 1,000+ employees) have already calculated their pay gaps. Anecdotally, some have told researchers that they are waiting to see what other companies in their sector do before publishing – or that they want there to be a large number of reports in the public domain before they release their own figures.

The survey found that 28.1 percent of mid-sized companies and 20.6 percent of larger companies had not yet carried out any calculations. Just 3.1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively had already reported. Almost all the rest had calculated their pay gaps either informally or formally but had not yet reported. Among those that had carried out the calculations, the results rarely came as a surprise. Nearly seven out of 10 (69.8 percent) said their pay gap was in line with expectations, with most saying that they had calculated the figures before.

Employers reported a similar lack of surprise at the extent of their gender bonus gaps – which are typically far wider than pay gaps. Asked what they would do as a result of calculating and reporting their gender pay gaps, organisations were most likely to:

  • Conduct further analysis (65.6 percent);
  • Develop an action plan to close the gap (45.8 percent);
  • Review recruitment processes (27.1 percent);
  • Review promotion processes (21.9 percent); and
  • Review pay levels for men and women (17.7 percent).

Just one in six (16.7 percent) said that having calculated and reported their gender pay gap, they were likely to take no further action. Commenting on the findings, XpertHR content director Mark Crail said: “Six months in, not only have tiny numbers of employers reported their gender pay gaps so far, but those that have done so have had pay gaps that were narrower than the national average. It now appears that many organisations, especially those with substantial pay gaps, are holding back from publishing their reports rather than wanting to draw attention to themselves by going early.

“Having looked at the reports that have been published so far, it is obvious that some, despite the best efforts of those concerned, do not entirely comply with the legislation. Rather than leaving it until the last minute, employers should now be ensuring that their data is accurate, the calculations are in line with the legislation and that all the reporting requirements can be met.

“Our data suggests that there will be a late surge of published data towards next April as the deadline approaches. HR departments should use the next few months wisely to really understand their own organisation’s gender pay gap and to develop a clear message to employees and the outside world about why it exists and what they are going to do about it.”