BPIF stresses need for clarity in gender pay gap reports

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Wednesday 15 July 2015

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The BPIF has expressed concern that published gender pay rates could be "misused and misinterpreted".


Jarrold: There will be the need to explain and understand levels of detail that go way beyond headline numbers

Prime Minister David Cameron outlined the government’s new gender pay gap regulation plans yesterday (14 July), which will force businesses with 250 or more employees to publish average salaries for their male and female employees.

BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold said it will be important to look into the detail of published pay rates and not just the headline numbers. 

“We prefer government policies that encourage rather than compel organisations to act in socially responsible and sensible ways, which on the face of it, this approach does.

“It clearly makes sense for companies to ensure that they hire and promote the most capable staff, and someone's gender obviously has no bearing on their capabilities.”

Jarrold said the print industry has traditionally been male dominated partly due to the bulk of the roles in the sector not being made sufficiently attractive to women.

“As the sector changes, and we explain the wide range of roles that are available, coupled with technology reducing the numbers of people employed in more traditional roles, we expect to see more balance,” he added.

“Reporting gender splits in employment will help raise the profile of the issue, although care will need to be taken to ensure that headline numbers aren't misinterpreted and misused.

“As usual, there will be the need to explain and understand levels of detail that go way beyond headline numbers - I hope the consultation process takes this into account in ensuring red tape is minimised.”

Mercury Search & Selection managing director Dani Novick said the move is unlikely to affect many printers but remains a concern due to the varying nature of job roles and responsibilities.

“Irrespective of whether they propose mean or median earnings as the measure, simply publishing an average without taking into account roles and responsibilities is misleading and contributes little to the cause of equality,” said Novick.

“Indeed results showing a pay gap could simply point to a concentration of women in lower paid roles and a general relatively low representation rather than unequal pay.

“This is not a gender pay gap but a gender role gap, which is a different issue with a wide variety of causes.”

Novick said the causes could include glass ceilings and barriers to entry or promotions but could also be the result of career and working pattern choices.

She added: “Shaming companies who pay women less for the same roles and responsibilities as men is fine but penalising employers for a situation caused by wider cultural and societal factors benefits no-one.”

A consultation has now began to look into the detail of how, what, where and when gender pay gap information will be published.

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