In the context of recent reports from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Chartered Management Institute that it will take 70 years and 98 years, respectively, for women to be equally represented in positions of power and to achieve pay equality at senior levels, some might think that strong measures to address pay inequality are overdue. Moreover, both reports emphasise the business case for pay equality, and not just the issue of fairness.
Nevertheless, when most of the Equality Act 2010 came into force just over a year ago, the government chose not to bring into force a power to compel larger employers to report on the gender pay gap, opting instead for a voluntary scheme to encourage disclosure by employers of all sizes.
Details of this scheme have been released, covering the entire spectrum of indicators from simply establishing a headline indicator to see how they are doing on gender equality or assessing representation within broad pay bands to complex measures across a variety of indicators showing proportions of men & women at different grades, the uptake of flexible working, patterns of retention and promotion for maternity returners and occupational segregation. ACAS has had a helping hand, preparing Guidance on Voluntary Gender Equality Reporting, and the EHRC has welcomed the scheme as a "step in the right direction".
However, the cynics amongst you might well wonder how high the uptake of the scheme will be amongst SMEs, and whether it will persuade any organisation which is not already committed to pay equality as a priority to "Think, Act, and Report".