Just one in five (20%) employers have produced action plans to close their gender pay gaps, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The EHRC analysed 440 gender pay gap reports from employers across various sectors to understand what they are doing to drive meaningful change following the first gender pay gap reporting deadline, and to tackle inequalities facing women at work.
The research found that only 11% of employers had set themselves targets that would enable them to measure progress year on year. Larger employers were found to be more likely to publish action plans and set themselves targets than smaller firms with fewer than 499 staff.
The EHRC said that while the publication of action plans is not mandatory, businesses should publish them if they want to demonstrate a commitment to reducing their gaps.
The EHRC made several recommendations around what to include in an action plan, including anonymising CVs and application forms, transparent recruitment and promotion procedures, advertising jobs flexibly from day one, actively promoting Shared Parental Leave to staff, developing short apprenticeship programmes, and providing opportunities for mentorship schemes.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, said that it was important for organisations to be transparent about their plans ahead of the second gender pay gap reporting deadline in April.
"Earlier this year gender pay gap reporting shone a light on some of the issues women face when accessing, progressing and staying within the workplace,” she said.
“As we head towards the second year of reporting the attention now needs to shift towards employers who must play their part in reducing the gap, starting with publicly setting out how they intend to address it in their organisation."
Hilsenrath added that a strong action plan makes good business sense as it demonstrates an organisation's commitment to driving change.
"Specific and time-bound action plans can do more than just identify the barriers holding women back in the workplace, they can help to create an environment where female employees can flourish, as well as demonstrate to employees, customers and shareholders a commitment to improving working practices, and can enhance the organisation’s reputation,” she said.
"As the body responsible for enforcing the gender pay gap regulations we’d like to see them go further and are calling for the government to make the publication of action plans mandatory, so that reporting can drive meaningful change."