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It’s Not Me, it’s the Gap

Monday April 23, 2018


Posted on: Monday April 23, 2018

Excuses and quick fixes won't fill the gap.

Reducing the gender pay disparities in the workplace is a daunting task, and it’s easy to try and find a ‘quick fix’ for the problem. But here’s the thing, no quick fix is going to solve years of hidden sexism and unconscious bias.

Unfortunately, some organisations are still tempted to try. So here are a few complete and utter no-no’s when it comes to reducing both your gender pay and gender happiness gaps.

Three Common Mistakes

1. Don’t try to sugar-coat your results

While it may be tempting to try and explain away results that you believe don’t accurately reflect the values and ethos of your company, it is very unlikely that this will work out in your favour.

Attempting to explain away the findings by stating that ‘we simply have more men on the board’ or ‘our industry is dominated by women in frontline positions’ is just not going to cut it. It is important to acknowledge that no matter the reason, a gender pay gap is unacceptable. While the gender pay gap is influenced, in part, by society, the blame cannot solely lay there. If this was simply a societal issue, there was be very little variation in the extent of the gap, and with some companies, like Majestic Wine, having a gender pay gap where women are coming out on top, this clearly isn’t the case. 

It is also inadvisable to attempt to simply reduce your employee happiness gap while ignoring the gender pay gap. Ice creams for all before announcing that women are not earning as much as men and that’s just the way it is will not be well received. A one-off bonus as a good will gesture won’t go very far in reversing what could be a lifetime of discrimination for some of your oldest employees. When times are tough, sugar-coating things with short term benefits will not work and the likelihood is that you will simply end up decreasing the overall happiness of your workforce. 

2. Don’t focus too heavily on the numbers

It’s easy to get caught up with the numbers, but this can lead to some unfortunate, and possibly very costly mistakes. For example; if you simply cut male workers pay, then you would be able to effectively remove the gender pay gap entirely. However, you would probably find yourself with numerous resignation letters as unhappy workers find themselves unable to live the life they were previously accustomed to on a fraction of their pay. 

You may be tempted to just promote some women into more senior positions and put a cap on hiring them for low paid, part-time work. This would not only reduce your gender pay gap, but also bring down women’s overall happiness levels in the workplace. This is most likely to result is increasingly unhappy workers in positions they don’t really want and a large number of discrimination claims.

3. Don’t just assume one size fits all

There is more diversity in the workplace than ever before, so it is unlikely that one solution will work for every employee. For some of your staff, irrespective of gender, flexible working may be the answer to reducing both the pay gap and the happiness gap. Flexible working is a benefit that is regarded extremely highly by the younger generations, as they are able to create a better work/life balance. It is also a good solution for men who want to take a more hands on approach when it comes to raising their young children. 

However, not everyone wants or needs to work from home, so it is important that you listen to the desires of your employees, and don’t force what may good for one section of your workforce on the entirety of your staff. 

Ultimately, closing both the gender pay gap and the gender happiness gap will require a long-term strategy of internal changes, senior management buy-in, education, an open attitude to ask the difficult questions and the positive action to act upon the answers received. There’s no quick fix for the unconscious bias that has become so ingrained in company culture, but the steps taken to aid its reduction and elimination will undoubtedly leave you with a happier, more engaged, more productive workforce, regardless of gender.

Download the full report

To coincide with our gender pay gap report, we also surveyed over 1200 UK employees about their happiness, enthusiasm, pride, and efficiency at work.
If you want to know more about our findings then download the full report below. 


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