HR directors back audits to spotlight inequalitiesOn 6 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Two HR directors who sat on theEqual Pay Task Force have told Personnel Today that regular mandatory equal payaudits are essential if the 18 per cent gender pay gap is to be significantlyreduced. Juris Grinbergs, HR director of Littlewoods,explained that many employers were complacent about conducting pay reviews. Hepointed to an NOP survey in January 2001 that showed that only a third ofemployers conduct pay reviews. Regular pay reviews are essentialfor picking up pay inequalities, he said. But the CIPD and CBI have calledfor a voluntary approach to pay reviews and criticised the task force’srecommendations. They believe it will result in more red tape for employers. Bob Mason, senior vice president ofHR at BT Wireless who chaired the task force, told Personnel Today, “I rejectthe CBI’s sweeping dismissal of the recommendations. Given more careful readingof the report, I think that the CBI would find much in our recommendations,which they would support and encourage.”He explained that mandatory payreviews wouldn’t be a burden because large and medium sized employers havepayroll systems in place that can generate the data. Furthermore, companieswill only have to conduct a full pay review if discrepancies are highlighted byan initial health check of the company’s pay structures.Mason said, “I don’t accept theview that this is difficult.”Grinbergs is calling for the EqualPay Act to be amended as soon as possible, and was disappointed by the CIPD’slack of support. He said, “They focused on one lineonly. We called for other recommendations in the report such as the EOC helpingto raise employers’ awareness of equal pay issues and increasing theeffectiveness of employment tribunal procedures.”The Government remains scepticalabout implementing mandatory pay reviews, with employment minister Tessa Jowellrefusing to commit to the recommendations at the task force announcement. But Grinbergs is pushing for changeby next year. He said, “The legislative timetables are up in the air due to theGeneral Election so it’s unlikely that the law will be changed until March orApril 2002.”How the task force plans to tacklethe pay gap– Raising levels of awareness amongemployers, which involves promotion by the EOC and representative bodies suchas the CBI and CIPD– Improving equal pay legislation,introducing a requirement for employers to conduct pay reviews and streamliningtribunal processes– Improving pay review guidance foremployers and unions– Reporting equal pay reviews inemployers’ annual reports– Creating a statutory duty onpublic employers to promote equal pay– Encouraging the Government toassess how policies such as the National Minimum Wage, the National ChildcareStrategy and National Skills Agenda could narrow the pay gapHow audits will workThe Equal Pay Task Force recommendsa two-stage approach to mandatory equal pay reviews.Stage one is an assessment of thepay both sexes in an organisation receive to establish if there are payinequalities. If there are, then stage two will examine the nature, causes andextent of the inequalities.All companies have to completestage one, unless they can show they have completed a full pay system review inline with the EOC Code of Practice.Stage one includes a pay systemequality check, to enable employers to assess whether they have a gender paygap. Employers have to answer a number of questions on their equal pay policies.The complexity of a full stage twoequal pay review depends on the organisation’s pay systems and availability ofdata on men and women’s pay. Determining where men and women perform equally atwork will be crucial to this stage. The diversity of approaches to paydetermination among employers makes one simple approach to the more detailedstage two review impossible.The Equal Pay Task Force hasproduced broad guidelines on the key features of this stage.Once stage two has been completedemployers should know the nature and extent of pay gaps within theirorganisations. An action plan is required to eliminate instances of paydiscrimination and provide equal pay within a reasonable timescale.The task force recommends that anaction plan should provide equal pay within a maximum of three years. Keyfigures of the action plan are that it:– Is agreed with recognised tradeunions– Introduces an equal pay policy,if none exists– Changes the processes, rules orpractices of unequal pay– Gives equal pay to current and futureemployees. If a transitional period is required this should be less than threeyears in all but the most complex situations – Sets up a system of regularmonitoring and clear managerial accountability to ensure the pay system is freefrom sex biasFeedback from the professionA recent CIPD survey suggested thatthere is a 17 per cent pay gap between male and female HR directors. PersonnelToday asked six female HR professionals whyFrancesca Okosi,director of human resources, London Borough of Brent “Women HR directors areunderpaid. It is wrong and needs to be changed but it will be difficult due tothe social conditions affecting this. I believe women’s salaries are lessbecause they may take career breaks because of pregnancy. So when they come backthey almost have to start again and their experience is undervalued.”Beverley Shears, HR director,SouthWest Trains“Men may well get paidmore because they have career plans. Unfortunately, I do not think women havethe confidence in themselves to handle high-profile jobs, which needs to beaddressed if the pay gap is to be reduced. The proportion of women in HR andwomen in high-level positions within HR is disproportionate. If we are able tochange this it could help to redress the balance.” Elly Waldron, HRmanager, eDirectory.co.uk“I find it hard tobelieve that companies are able to get away with a gender pay gap at the top inHR. A female director is going to be intelligent, and a female HRdirector is going to know her employment rights, so I am surprised by thefindings. I assume women HR directors do not want to rock the boat”Fiona Colquhoun, HRdirector, ICL“I’m not sure I agreethat women HR directors are paid less than their male counterparts. The issueof gender pay is hard to judge. Companies base pay on ability and what theybelieve the individual is worth. It is often the case that a new person takinga job will get paid more than the previous person, that is the way of theworld.”Carmen Burton, HR executive managerof accountants, Norton practice“The results donot surprise me, as there seems to be two different directions to reach the topin HR. Women traditionally start off at the bottom and work their way up, whilesenior HR men tend to have no or little HR background and often come from otherbusiness areas. This is one of the reasons for the gap in salaries.”Hilary Campbell, HRdirector of call centre outsourcing, Vertex “I do not believe there is pay gap atdirector level in HR between the genders. We (women) are too ready to shout“foul”. Until the number of women at senior level in HR increases it isimpossible to compare salaries – it’s like comparing apples with pears.”Case study: BT shows how it shouldbe doneBT introduced changes in 1998 toits pay review processes of management grades after a number of pay auditsrevealed a gender pay gap in the company.The changes to its pay reviewsystem included an equal pay statement and a specific budget for equal payissues.Bob Mason, senior vice-president ofHR at BT, said pay reviews are conducted after the pay rounds. During the pay rounds the HRdepartment issues guidance to managers reminding them of equal pay policies.Each business then undertakes a pay review to see if there are anydiscrepancies in pay. Where differences are identified,each business unit has a specific budget to assist in redressing the balance. Mason explained that BT has setaside money specifically to address any equal pay anomalies. Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed.