Leading companies to audit pay as part of gender gap probe

Nine large companies are to carry out equal pay audits of their staff to
provide best practice examples for the Government’s review into the gender pay
gap.

The companies will scrutinise career paths, the effect of flexible working
practices on retention, promotional rates, pay and bonuses.

Unilever is launching a pilot scheme later this year that will search for
gender discrepancies among 3,000 managers, before it is rolled out to its
12,000 UK staff.

Geoff Williams, head of UK personnel at Unilever, said, "We will look
at the average pay for management grades and compare that with the average male
and female salary, as well as look at the length of time women spend in a role
compared with men."

Williams is also to examine the success of women on the company’s management
high potential list. He said he is committed to rectifying any gender anomalies
that are found in salary or career opportunities.

The other companies carrying out similar audits are British Airways,
Citigroup, Littlewoods, Sainsbury’s, HSBC Bank, Compass, Granada and Centrica.

They are among the 50 large employers interviewed for the Kingsmill Review
of Women’s Employment and Pay, which aims to cut the 18 per cent gender pay gap
through spreading best practice.

Nearly half of the respondents to our News Barometer online survey last week
admitted that their organisation would not pass an equal pay audit.

Equal pay case studies

Littlewoods to use findings for development plans

Littlewoods will investigate its managers’ total pay and reward packages for
gender inequalities next year.

It will also examine the number of women in senior management and in which
business areas they work. The results will be incorporated into personnel
development plans and recruitment practices. Jim Donovan, HR director of
Littlewoods, said, "We know that the number of female senior managers has
increased by 5 per cent.

"We have to ask ourselves whether this rate of change is fast enough
and what areas is it in. Is it in traditional female areas such as HR or is it
in tougher areas with financial responsibilities."

Centrica calls in outsider to run rule over practice

Energy company Centrica is to bring in external consultants to review gender
practices at its call centres. They will examine pay, performance management,
recruitment policies and promotion. Call centre staff represent 40 per cent of
the company’s 30,000 employees.

Jill Shedden, HR director group operations at Centrica, said external
consultants are the best way to discover problems.

She said, "We have looked so many times [at the systems] that we may
not be able to see any discrimination."

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