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Pay gaps widen between 2020 and 2021

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A mere 1% of employers report reducing pay gaps

According to results from Mercer’s new UK Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gap trends report75% of respondents disagreed with government’s decision to suspend gender pay gap reporting in 2020. Despite 74% of respondents reporting that their numbers have shown continued commitment for inclusion despite the suspension, there appears to be minimal progress made in closing the gap with half of respondents claiming to see little or no progress made year-on-year. A mere 1% of employers reported reducing their pay gap by more than 10%. The results of the report offer a clear indication of how businesses continue to struggle in closing pay gaps – a trend which is expected to continue. Considering the pandemic has brought DE&I into sharp focus, businesses should allocate more attention to pay gaps in a bid to attract and retain talent in a very challenging market.

Findings in the report revealed that fewer than one in three (30%) employers reduced its gender pay gap by 2% between 2019 and 2020. Granted, focus in 2020 was finding new innovative ways to work with the arrival of the pandemic, but alarmingly, a mere 18% of employers reported an increase in pay gap from 2019 to 2020. Recently reported government figures on the UK gender pay gap numbers suggest a median gap of 10.4% for 2020, compared to 9.7% from 2019. A similar theme to Mercer’s 2021 Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gap Trends survey; and highlighting that focus on pay gaps has dwindled over the last two years.

Michelle Sequeira, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consulting Leader, Mercer UK commented: “Key drivers of pay gaps range from issues with attracting and retaining women to failing to eliminate the barriers to career progression that prevent female and diverse employees from entering more senior roles. There are employers who have also shown a willingness to change and they are encouraged to conduct deeper analysis to get to the root of the problem and put action plans in place.”

Following many global events surrounding race, it’s believed that employers are now looking beyond gender. Nearly 65% supported legislation enabling ethnicity pay gaps to be addressed and reported with 45% of respondents claiming they felt under pressure to conduct ethnicity pay gap analysis. Even though ethnicity pay gap reporting is not yet a legal requirement in the UK, according to Mercer’s report, 74% of employers have collected data or are planning to do so in future. More than half (57%) are conducting dry-run analysis to calculate ethnicity pay gaps, with 31% reporting that they have published or are planning to publish their pay gaps. Internal stakeholders and employees are adding pressure to organisations to make changes within the organisations and wider society.

Ms Sequeira made final comment: “To truly make a difference, employers must look beyond their pay gaps. In addition to examining ethnicity pay gaps, our report encourages employers to widen the pools from which they recruit and take steps to reduce unconscious bias in processes. Most important of all is creating a genuinely inclusive workforce that allows people to be themselves and thrive both in and outside of work. It is ineffective to offer working parents career development opportunities and salaries if they are expected to extend their working days in ways that negatively impact their family lives. It is futile to hire and train up diverse colleagues if they join a non-inclusive culture or are repeatedly overlooked for promotion. Understanding your current state and engaging and upskilling senior leaders is so key to help them realise where they are going wrong.”

 

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