The year 2018 is becoming a stand-out year for gender equality here in the UK.
First, our country is celebrating the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in 1918. This anniversary has been marked through events, speeches and celebrations (read more about this here).
Secondly, the UK has recently witnessed one of the most interesting aspects of the 2010 Equalities Act come into force for the first time. This Act made it a legal requirement for all large employers (defined as having 250+ employees) to report and publish the gender pay gap data for their organizations by April 4, 2018. While there are still a few notable stragglers, most organizations have now reported their date, and the results make for very interesting reading.
The publication of the data has put the issue of the gender pay gap, and gender equality at work overall, very much on the national media agenda. Some organizations are struggling to explain the pictures the data paints regarding their attitudes about diversity and equality. The Economist succinctly reported the results in their recent lead article, “Pity the UK’s press officers,” the Guardian soon followed publishing an interactive tool enabling anyone to discover when a large employer stops paying females equally to their male colleagues. This tool can be accessed here.
The publication of the gender pay gap data has also created a highly opportune time to launch a new toolkit from the Men as Agents of Change (MACA) acting group in the UK. MACA is a division of the UK’s Women’s Business Council (WBC), which was set-up by the then Home Secretary, now Prime Minister, Theresa May in 2012. It aims to maximize women’s contribution to the economic growth of the UK since research from Mckinsey has shown that if the gender pay gap is eliminated the UK it will add billions of pounds to the economy by 2025. This would have a significant impact as the country focuses on increasing its economic growth.
MACA’s aim with the new toolkit, specifically, is to close the gender pay gap in the UK by addressing one of its major causes, the lack of women at executive levels across the entire economy. This toolkit is therefore viewed as a way to meet the Hampton Alexander Government target: to have 33% of all executive level appointments filled by women by 2020.
How will MACA accelerate progress in this area? Firstly, it will engage the leaders of large organizations (principally chairmen and CEOs) to actively address the issue by asking them to commit to three actions:
- Take personal responsibility for ensuring that 33% of executive-level business leaders are women by 2020.
- Personally sponsor 1-3 women who have the potential to secure an executive role in their organizations.
- Become a visible part of the wider conversation around achieving gender balance.
MACA has also provided a toolkit of best practice initiatives that have already proven successful in eliminating the gender pay gap by the following leading UK businesses:
- Workplace culture: Deloitte
- Balanced shortlists: Liftstream Ltd
- Sponsoring: Sky Plc
- Talent pipeline: Barclays Plc
- Agile working: British Telecom Plc (BT)
- Shared parental leave: Aviva Plc
The toolkit has also been sent to the chairmen and CEOs of companies that make up the FTSE 350, as well as to the largest 150 privately owned companies in the UK, with the personal endorsement of the current Home Secretary, Amber Rudd. We at MACA hope that the toolkit will give corporate leaders the inspiration and initiatives they need to start making changes now, so that we all see the UK’s gender pay gap start to close when the next set of data is published in April 2019.
You can help us achieve this goal by creating an environment where closing the gender pay gap remains part of the national conversation in the UK. Please show your support for the initiative by following us on the social media channels you use.
Emer Timmons is the MACA Co-Chair and the Chief Marketing Officer and President Global Enterprise, Brightstar.