It’s still a man’s world when it comes to pay

Equal
pay or, more specifically, the lack of it, is an issue that continues to
generate headlines – and not just in the HR press.

While
the glass ceiling appears to be cracking for women as they gain a bigger share
of well-paid managerial jobs (see page 1), the HR
profession is lagging behind.

The
bittersweet irony for HR people, at all levels, is that they should be seen as
the drivers of equality within an organisation. But now, far from casting their
gaze across the organisation, HR needs to look a little bit closer to home. 

It
must be hard to take for female managers out there, who are working hard to
ensure equal opportunities and pay for staff throughout their organisations,
when they are experiencing this disparity first hand.

Research
by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows less than a third
of organisations undertook an equal pay audit last year, and other surveys show
that female HR directors in the private sector earn up to a third less than men.

Predictably,
the unions are arguing for compulsory audits as pay discrimination – even
though the situation appears to be improving – is still commonplace. The
employers’ stance, as trumpeted by the CBI, is one of opposition to mandatory
audits because of the extra burden it will create.

Common
sense, backed up by a raft of recent research, points to the fact that
potential employees are influenced in their choice of employer by its record on
equal pay. By the same token, it will influence whether an individual stays
within that same organisation.

Perhaps
the simplistic answer is that there are so many equal opportunities issues for
employers to deal with that pay and reward often gets swept under the carpet.
But this is not an excuse – HR should be setting a good example.

Unless
this situation improves, the HR profession may soon be experiencing the brain
drain from its own ranks, it strives so hard to prevent elsewhere.

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