“Gender pay gap reporting will transform the workplace for women in Ireland and change how companies recruit, retain and evaluate staff.”
That’s according to Emer Bucukoglu, who is addressing a special briefing in Leinster House today on the lessons Ireland can learn from the UK’s experience of implementing gender pay gap legislation.
The briefing was organised by a new cross-party parliamentary group on workplace equality, established by the Dress for Success Dublin charity and chaired by Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, with representatives from industry and trade unions in attendance, as well as Senators and TDs.
Mrs. Bucukoglu, who works with Innecto Reward Consulting, the largest independent pay and reward consultancy in the UK, said: “Gender pay gap reporting – once in force – will become a very powerful piece of employment legislation and will make a hugely positive change for women across Ireland.
In the UK, we have seen first-hand how gender pay gap legislation has been a game-changer in terms of workplace culture and practices. In its first year alone, we have seen how employers are changing the way they look at their policies and practices, conducting deeper analytics around pay processes, promotional activity, as well as reviewing their recruitment policies, mentoring schemes and career progression frameworks.
On top of this, many are reaching out to schools and universities to challenge the make-up of gender across many fields that, to date, were predominantly occupied by males.”
Our aim with the cross-party group is to raise awareness of the inequalities that persist in the Irish workforce
Mrs. Bucukoglu, who has over 20 years’ experience in Reward, and more recently in gender pay and equal pay audits, outlined a number of lessons for Ireland from the UK’s experience of implementing gender pay gap legislation.
Educate Well in Advance
“It’s not about unearthing pay discrimination,” she said. “That’s already illegal in Ireland. Rather, it’s about highlighting pay gaps in a bid to understand the main contributors to these gaps, be it sectoral bias, unfair pay mechanisms, discriminatory working policies, or lack of equal opportunities to advance.
We need to make sure employers, policymakers and the general public are clear about the difference between the gender pay gap and equal pay.”
Compulsory Reporting and Compliance Requirements
“Reporting by companies is crucial in driving change,” according to Mrs. Bucukoglu. “In the UK, companies that fail to provide their headline pay gaps face legal action, including court orders and fines.”
Require a Narrative to Accompany the Data..
..which must be signed by senior figures – typically the CEO and Chair – from the workplace in question.
“This narrative requirement has driven big change,” said Mrs. Bucukoglu. “It’s simply not enough to acknowledge the gap; the reasons behind it must be explained.
Employers must provide context and insight into any recruiting challenges they face. Importantly, they must also move beyond the negative: articulate the good work they’re doing to challenge the gender pay gap and to promote inclusion and diversity. The most compelling narratives were the ones that were honest in holding their hands up to the gap, explaining the reasons but – more importantly – explicit in terms of what they planned to do to change the picture.”
Gender diversity in leadership is strongly correlated with higher returns, profitability and share price.
The business case for diversity is being highlighted during today’s briefing – with an input from Hayley Barnard, Managing Director of MIX Diversity Developers, a consultancy that specialises in delivering diversity and inclusion audits and gender equality initiatives for workplaces across Europe.
“The business case for greater gender balance is indisputable,” said Ms. Barnard. “Multiple studies from the likes of McKinsey, Gallup, Credit Suisse and Catalyst have reported that gender diversity in leadership is strongly correlated with higher returns, profitability and share price.”
“In a recent survey of 10,000 global leaders by Deloitte, two-thirds said greater inclusion of diversity, particularly in management positions, is important to business success – but many struggle with how to achieve this. What’s clear is that those businesses that invest time and resources into a culture shift programme see the best results. Having a compelling vision for gender diversity, clearly communicated from the CEO, with targets and accountability in place, are features of the most successful businesses when it comes to gender inclusion.”
We’ll look at introducing legislation early next year to address some of the obstacles to workplace equality.
Plans to Challenge Inequality in the Workplace
Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, chair of the new cross-party group on workplace equality, and designer and entrepreneur Sonya Lennon – who founded Dress for Success Dublin – are addressing today’s event.
“Our aim with the cross-party group is to raise awareness of the inequalities that persist in Irish workforces,” said Senator Clifford-Lee. “We’ll be holding a range of briefings for elected representatives, policymakers and sectoral stakeholders over the coming months, and we’ll look at introducing legislation early next year to address some of the obstacles to workplace equality.”
“In the meantime, we welcome the Government’s commitment to introduce gender pay gap legislation in the months to come. This is an important first step in tackling inequality at work, and we will be monitoring the development of the legislation closely.”
One of the striking things we’ve noticed is that there are a lot of gender pay gap ‘deniers’ in Ireland: many individuals and workplaces refuse to acknowledge that a pay gap exists – Sonya Lennon
Sonya Lennon said: “The cross-party group has emerged from the Equal Pay campaign run by Dress for Success Dublin for the past three years. Through our service provision, we encounter first-hand many of the obstacles women face when entering and progressing in the workplace.”
“One of the striking things we’ve noticed is that there are a lot of gender pay gap ‘deniers’ in Ireland: many individuals and workplaces refuse to acknowledge that a pay gap exists and that there are positive steps companies can take to address this.”
“At the same time, there are many companies going above and beyond already – to promote diversity and inclusion, and to prepare for the introduction of gender pay gap laws here. We had huge interest from industry in today’s event, as well as from trade unions, education and training bodies, and wider civic society. We can learn valuable lessons from analysing the UK’s experience before we introduce our own gender pay gap laws in Ireland.”
Further information about Dress for Success Dublin and the new cross-party group on workplace equality is available at www.dressforsuccessdublin.org.