Martha How explains the dangers of ignoring a serious gap in gender pay
Too many organisations are waiting to be forced - through legislation or litigation - to address equal-pay issues. Is it that they are confident that they are doing everything right, or are they simply daunted by the prospect of conducting an equal-pay audit? They clearly haven't realised that if they do nothing, the costs involved in complying with future legislation or judgments could be much greater and outside of their control (News, 20 August).
Whatever the reason, their reticence flies in the face of much-used corporate statements such as 'people are among our most valuable assets'. Perhaps companies are failing to see the benefits that equal-pay reviews can bring to an organisation as a whole.
Addressing equal pay and the range of organisational issues that may emerge during a review of this nature, would place businesses in an enviable position of being able to turn those issues to a competitive advantage. The ability to attract, retain and motivate staff from the widest range will help address skills shortages, and demonstrating diversity in the organisation should result in increased motivation and productivity.
By actively addressing the issues that arise, an organisation can help foster an internal culture that supports the external brand. Compare this with the impact of negative publicity on an organisation's employer brand - just look at the number of equal pay cases appearing in the press over the past few months.
Employer reluctance may also be fuelled by a fear of what is involved in conducting an equal pay review, even though this could be an integral part of the reward strategy. If they adopt a practical and risk-based approach, they need not make a mountain out of a molehill.
Organisations should first establish an awareness of the importance of equal pay in the workplace, and then investigate circumstances that may suggest a high risk of equal pay issues. An example might be large gender disparities in working groups, perhaps resulting from a merger or acquisition, recent or otherwise. Circumstances such as these may have led to disparate terms and conditions, or perhaps the organisation is at different stages of harmonisation or integration. There could be varying ranges of bonus awards, allocated on subjective criteria. Clearly, employers need to be prepared to address the issues high