Tuesday 17 September 2019

Firms fear fallout from pay gap audits

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA

Gretchen Friemann

A survey of 67 large companies in Ireland shows most are concerned about the reputational risk of forced gender pay gap reporting, while a majority have yet to assess whether a discrepancy between male and female pay even exists.

The findings are contained in a new report by HR and employee benefits consultants Mercer, ahead of draft legislation aimed at promoting equal pay.

In April, the UK introduced mandatory reporting of gender pay gaps for organisations that employ at least 250 staff. Similar legislation may be ushered in here by the end of this year.

The data revealed that in 74pc of firms men are paid more than women and dominate the highest-paid ranks while the lowest salary bands are primarily populated by women.

Mercer's report reveals 67pc of polled firms are concerned about the potential reputational impact of gender pay gap reporting, and half worry about the cost that addressing pay differentials might impose on their business.

The findings also highlight the high levels of inertia at tackling inequality. They show 70pc of large organisations have yet to assess whether a pay bias exists, prompting Helen McCarthy, senior HR strategy consultant at Mercer, to claim "much work remains to be done".

She said it was "good to see that almost three-quarters of survey respondents agree with the principle of gender pay gap reporting and that two-thirds believe reporting will make a positive difference.

"However, it was concerning that a large majority of companies have taken no action to discover whether gender bias exists in pay. In fact, half do not plan to conduct an audit in the next 18 months, while just under half have reviewed policies to improve gender diversity."

Irish Independent

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