How HR can close the gender pay gap

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Closing the gender pay gap is a top priority for many employers but making significant progress is no easy feat – here, one remuneration specialist offers her advice on how HR can get things rolling.

“The first thing I would say is facts are friends,” says Susan Doughty, a partner in EY’s talent and reward practice. “If you’re doing analysis across your population and you’re talking in facts, then your leadership and board will stand up to attention because they can’t ignore it at that point.”

Doughty – who has over 25 years’ experience in senior HR and reward specialist roles – says support from the senior leadership and the board is critical to securing meaningful change.

“HR needs to be a strategic partner with the leadership team and the board because this needs to be taken up as a leadership issue from the very top,” she stresses. “They need to be championing this in their communications and messaging so everyone knows it’s serious.”

Another simple but remarkable effective step employers can take is setting up a dedicated diversity and inclusion council, says Doughty.

“Pull people from your workplace who are really interested in making a difference or making a contribution and get them together to start working on a common objective,” she tells HRM.

Importantly, Doughty says all types of employees should be welcomed into the council as a variety of viewpoints can bring about better results.

“These things need to be fully inclusive to anyone – male or female and lowest to highest in the organisation – that’s really critical,” she stresses.

“The way that the issue is looked at from lower in the organisation to higher in the organisation can be completely different so you need to bring all of those points of views together and then from that you need to distil something that’s going to work for everybody,” she continues.

The Auckland-based expert says these councils empower employees of all levels to get involved with the organisation while also taking some of the responsibility away from over-burdened senior leaders.

“At EY, we have these councils and I sponsor the gender pillar but I’m supported by a team right across our firm of people who are passionate on this and we’re thinking about some of the events we could do, what sort of collateral do we need to do, what training should we do – all sorts of different things and if you’re starting to do that then you’re going to make incremental steps forward quite quickly.”

Doherty, who is also on the judging panel for this year’s YWCA Equal Pay Awards, will be hosting a workshop on the topic later this week as part of the Equal Pay Speaking Series, held at the Ministry for Women in Wellington.

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