Perspectives from ISB

With just days to go until all major UK employers have to reveal the difference between what they pay men and women, several of the country’s biggest family firms say they are committed to doing better.

In 2017 the UK government introduced regulations requiring businesses with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap and gender bonus gap by 5 April. So far, just under 6,000 companies have reported, of an estimated total of around 9,000. The UK has a national median pay gap of 18.4%, as of April 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics.

When it comes to gender pay, the mean—or average—often reflects the usual trend of more men in senior positions, whereas the median (in this case the middle earner of all men and all women) arguably better reflects the pay rate for the “average Joe” worker of each gender within a company.

Michael Maslinski, partner group head of strategy and know how at Stonehage Fleming, said there was a growing trend in family businesses for women to become more involved, often in leadership roles.

“It is true that in many families the business has, historically, been mainly the preserve of men, but this is changing and in some families it is now taken for granted that men and women are treated absolutely equally,” he said.

Maslinski said women often had a positive impact on company culture. “Successful families and their businesses understand the need to adapt to a changing environment and the presence of women in leadership roles is part of that change.”

Maslinski said the published pay gap could be misleading unless compared to other comparable businesses.

There have been numerous criticisms of the government’s reporting standards. Base pay is calculated by working out a per-hour wage, while bonus pay is not calculated on a pro-rata basis. Because more women work part time, the bonus gap between men and women may therefore be overstated.

With more than 3,000 still to report, companies are waiting until the final few days to file their figures, with some commentators saying this is part of a strategy to get lost in the deluge of last-minute filings.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, told the Financial Times there was school of thought that went “maybe I should hold off and when there’s the big tsunami of companies reporting I’ll bury it into that”.

Source: Newlove, Alexandra., March 29, 2018;

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