In the summer of 2016 the Pay Equality Research Consortium looked into employer views on the forthcoming regulations. A report on the preliminary findings looks at how informed employers feel, their measures of preparation, and how effective they feel regulations will be in overcoming pay gaps.
Interviews revealed that employers have mixed views about the possible effectiveness of GPG reporting: yes, no, and uncertain. The majority of interviews reflected the challenge of the task ahead and the comparatively limited impact that such legislation is likely to have. There was the feeling that this probably wouldn’t work for smaller organisations; that the complexity of the measurements and the process was such that the effects of this weren’t really understood. One respondent pointed to their non-compulsory nature as a reason to suggest they wouldn’t have much impact.
Employers recognised that there is scope for many different explanations for pay gaps and the impact of reporting gaps will be lost in narrative. There was also the sense that public reporting wouldn’t change behaviours of employees.
There was a more positive perspective from larger organisations where this was seen as a ‘wake-up call’. Employers acknowledged reporting could be potentially quite powerful in sectors where comparisons can be made and employees are more likely to move between employers. It was also seen as a valuable process in terms of starting the debate. As one respondent put it: “If it gets measured it gets done”. But the need for implementation and follow through was seen as key. It was also seen as a means to start to shift cultures. In essence it was seen as being a stimulus for change (the media could play a role here too) where organisations wouldn’t want to be named and shamed.
A number of concerns were raised:
- That employers would not be given the time to understand or prepare
- That reporting pay gaps would be little more than more that rhetoric or ‘advertising’
- That measures would be too complex
- That impact would be hard to gauge, with little to no evidence of this type of regulation having worked elsewhere
- How gaps would be explained and qualified (potentially neutralising the intended impact)
- How the figures were going to be compiled and whether it would be a fair and true reflection of the position. This included questions around what was included and what was not, and whether fair comparisons were possible.