What works in tackling gender inequality in the workplace?

Claire Tunley, Head of Employability at the City of London Corporation, highlights key areas to take action following the government’s gender pay gap advice. 

Earlier this year large employers published their gender pay information, revealing publicly the difference in average earnings between men and women. This revealed that nationwide, 78% of reporting companies pay men more than women (14% of companies have a gender pay gap in favour of women and 8% have no gap at all). There is significant variation between sectors; with the construction and finance sectors showing the biggest pay gap and hospitality and health sectors the smallest. However, no sector pays women more than men.

The benefits of having a gender diverse workforce are clear. A more diverse workforce improves reputation which helps to attract new talent and customers. There are also benefits for staff retention, with employees feeling valued and supported. It also helps productivity, utilising resources more effectively.

But how do employers make changes to how they recruit and progress staff to ensure a more diverse workforce?

Recently, the Government Equalities Office published guidance on the actions most likely to improve recruitment and retention of women. The guidance shows which actions have a strong evidence base supporting their effectiveness and those where the evidence is less clear. Evidence shows that widespread interventions such as unconscious bias training does not change behaviour. Similarly, ensuring a diverse selection panel at interviews can have a negative effect in some instances. Some of the most effective actions are simple interventions, such as using structured interviews, or including more than one woman on recruitment shortlists.

The Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements only apply to companies with more than 250 employees. However, many smaller businesses are keen to embed good practice and ensure that diverse talent can progress. This evidence-based guidance identifies actions that employers of all sizes can take to improve diversity in their workforce, not just for women, but for all individuals.

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