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Gender Pay Gap Reporting: An Opportunity, Not an Obligation

Gender Pay Gap reporting has made the headlines again this year. While some news was positive, on the whole there was no real significant improvement between 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Posted: 7th August 2019 by Finance Monthly
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According to Lucy Franklin, Managing Director of Accordance VAT, this is disappointing, and has prompted responses ranging from outrage about the results to despair about the process, with a healthy dose of weak excuses thrown in for good measure.

In the criticisms and reporting, we run the risk of getting mired in the process, not the impact. Gender Pay Gap reporting represents an immense opportunity to identify if and where there are issues within a business. Visibility is the first step towards progress – and the gender pay gap is an issue we need progress on.

That said, I know that adopting new reporting obligations can be onerous – finance is full of filing and submissions, and Accordance is no stranger to mandatory deadlines. But in this instance, the benefits outweigh the administrative burden. Gender pay gap reporting offers the potential to identify, at every level of a business, where inequalities lie. Whilst this may appear a redundant statement, the lack of progress in gender equality in the workplace over recent decades can attest to the necessity of an issue being recognised, being visible, and being acted on.

This is why Accordance has made the decision to publish our gender pay gap statistics, despite being well beneath the legal threshold for reporting. I want Accordance VAT to play a role in changing a historically male dominated sector. Finance and professional services companies boast a huge number of talented, bright, determined women. Many of these women have great careers in support functions, but those shouldn’t be the only avenues open to them. Financial and professional services organisations are unfortunately disproportionately dominated by men in the more senior positions, and this needs to change. Reporting on our Gender Pay Gap may not affect the systemic issues, but it is a step towards addressing inequality more widely as well as setting the bar for other businesses. We want to lead the way in our sector, and that means voluntarily putting ourselves forward, celebrating our successes where we find them but being the first to highlight where progress is needed.

Publishing our results is just the first step. Having identified that our mean pay gap sits at 12.8% and our median pay gap at -3.5%, we know that we’re doing better than some of our larger competitors in the sector, but we can do more. Publishing our figures shows our commitment to tackling this gap, as do the range of measures we have put in place around recruitment, training, job shadowing, and progression policies. These policies don’t just relate to gender diversity, but also diversity in terms of ethnicity, culture, physical ability, health and mental health.

Fundamentally, greater equality in our sector is about much more than just an improvement in statistics. Finance drives the world – and thus has a significant impact on how lives are led. We need to attract the best and the brightest minds shaping this future – and we need people from different walks of life with a seat at the table. Women need to be as key as men in determining the shape and course of finance, and how it affects economies and shared futures. Again, publishing our statistics cannot affect global trends and practices, but it does demonstrate our commitment to equality, and our determination to reshape the sector we work in.

I urge other businesses below the threshold to join us – to publish statistics for staff and for the wider world, and to identify where progress needs to be made. Reporting and publishing on the picture of an organisation offers an immense opportunity to recognise where problems are, and in doing so shape and improve them for the benefit of everyone. Equality requires commitment and a will to change, but the benefits of a more diverse workforce will be felt both in and outside of the financial and professional services sector.

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