Pay & The Illusion of Equality – When is a Gap a Hole

For years, forward thinking and responsible employers have been carrying out Equal Pay Audits to assess compliance with pay equality legislation. In many sectors the outcome will have resulted in Boards and Executive teams congratulating themselves on their equality credentials. However, what would their reaction have been if they had carried out a Gender Pay Gap audit? Almost certainly very different. It is at this point that your ears should prick up – not just because of the equality dimension, but as importantly because of the potential ‘hole’ in the Talent Management strategy of your business.

On 5th April this year the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations will come into force. All private & voluntary sector organisations in England, Wales & Scotland, with 250 or more relevant employees, will be required to report on the gender pay gap within their organisation. At present, as reported by the ONS, the median pay of women as a percentage of that earned by men, is nearly 1/5th lower. This doesn’t mean that pay legislation has been breached, it just means that women are disproportionately occupying lower paid jobs in comparison to their male counterparts.

This is where a gap becomes a hole!

So, an Equal Pay Audit exposes a gap, whereas as a Gender Pay Gap exposes a hole. Perhaps we already need the legislators to change the title!

In the next couple of months there will be a flurry of activity by CEO’s and HR Directors across 3 corners of the UK. Northern Ireland is not yet included, which seems odd, given that equality is quite rightly almost evangelical in NI. Organisations will put in place the mechanisms to fulfil Gender Pay Gap obligations – but sadly, I suspect, many will see this as a statistical inconvenience that forms part of the compliance programme for the coming year.

The diagram below, courtesy of XpertHR, pictorially exposes the absurdity of our modern work places.


So, the inequality in pay, is not about pay. It’s about business strategy and talent management. Business leaders should take this opportunity to take the outcome of their Gender Pay Gap reports, and use statistical outcomes to fundamentally reshape their business moving forward, including:
• operating culture
• employee branding & engagement
• recruitment & selection
• job design
• professional and leadership development
• strategic workforce planning

If used wisely, from the legislative ‘Acorn’ that is the Gender Pay Gap Information Regulations 2017, the future prosperity of your business will grow.

Distinctive People is a People consultancy, applying distinctive approaches to legislative opportunities.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting – do it Distinctively contact 0203 3876 4039 –

Mark Glinwood
Distinctive People HR & OD Consultancy – 07944-411484