Tackle equal pay reviews to become great places to work

I am writing in response to your editorial comment about equal pay reviews (Personnel Today, 24 May).

As an HR director in the private sector, I would have previously sought to avoid an equal pay review. However, I have looked at the issue from a different perspective since I moved to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) two years ago.

While the CAA is notionally in the public sector, all our funding comes from the private sector, as do 95% of our recruits.

My colleagues on the executive committee and I decided to hold an equal pay review with our trades unions, facilitated by Steve Bevan of The Work Foundation. It was hard work, and it took time and resources that could, perhaps, have been spent on other things. However, the report revealed some deep issues that we will resolve over time, in agreement with both the unions and the management team.

Having gone through all of that, the key question is: has it added value to our business? I am convinced that it has, on two grounds.

We have avoided the problems the NHS is now having to resolve in North Cumbria, where a £100m equal pay settlement has caused problems with staff morale, performance and retention, as well as financial difficulties for the hospital trust involved. We have some difficult issues to manage but will do so in a measured way in agreement with our unions and with the understanding of our staff.

We also want to be a great place to work, where great work is done. We are entirely dependent on the quality of our staff, and their professionalism and dedication to achieve our objectives – one of which is aviation safety. The UK has one of the best records in the world. This record won’t be kept by hiding the issues revealed through equal pay reviews from our staff.

I now firmly believe that organisations that choose to avoid equal pay reviews are also choosing to avoid being great places to work.

Dick Townsend
HR director
Civil Aviation Authority

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