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Hot topic: Gender pay reporting, part two

As gender pay gap reporting is introduced will it lead to problems?

From April firms will need to start recording data to report on their gender pay gap in 2018. However, some have argued that this will not show the full picture.

Kathryn Clapp, senior professional support lawyer at Taylor Wessing, says:

"UK private employers with 250 or more employees will have to report their gender pay gap. No aggregation is required across group companies. If no individual group organisation hits this threshold no data needs be reported.

"Conversely, large organisations required to report may hive off employees to service or offshore companies, either to reduce the total headcount below 250 or to carve out very senior, highly-paid, and often male executives from the pay data. This approach is at odds with the spirit of the regulations as it lacks transparency and could be subject to reputational criticism from competitors and the wider market.

"In traditionally male-dominated sectors, or where senior managerial ranks are largely male, leading to a potentially larger gender pay gap, additional voluntary contextual reporting will be important to explain some of the differences or show the steps being taken in recruitment or promotion to counter such trends."

Kate Whelan, director of reward and HR services for Telefonica UK, says:

"I am concerned about gender pay reporting; will it create undue focus on a single digit with companies being placed in league tables? Hours will be spent gathering data, calculating trends, manipulating statistics to tell a better story and move up the league table. Time that would be better spent addressing the root cause.

"Rather than focusing only on gender pay differences we should be looking at gender balance. Company A has 99 men and 1 woman, who happens to be senior and rather well-paid. Company B has 60 men and 40 women at all organisational levels. Which is better to work in? Company A might have a better gender pay gap, but company B will have the benefit of a more balanced workforce.

"For many years we have been connecting with schools and working with local communities, supporting and inspiring women in particular to engage with STEM. Our women in leadership programme has been incredibly successful in helping coach and develop women already employed by us. We have had 50:50 long and short lists for a number of years and last year we launched a returners programme open to both men and women."

Read part one of this Hot Topic