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17 July 2019
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Just one in five employers has produced an action plan to close the gender pay gap, according to a poll by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).


04 February 2019 Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Just one in five employers has produced an action plan to close the gender pay gap, according to a poll sampling by equality body the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The organisation is calling on more employers to publish action plans. Publication of plans is not mandatory, but the EHRC says it is essential that such plans are published by businesses that want to demonstrate a real commitment to reducing the gap.

It carried out an analysis of employers’ gender pay gap action plans to understand “what they are doing to drive meaningful change and tackle inequalities facing women in the workplace”.

The survey also reveals that:

Only 11 per cent of employers had set themselves targets that would enable them to measure the progress of their plans year on year.

Larger employers were more likely than smaller ones to set themselves targets, as employers with fewer than 499 staff were less likely to publish an action plan as part of their gender pay gap figures than larger ones.

The report also recommends what to include in a good action plan, such as:

  • Anonymising CVs and application forms;
  • Transparent recruitment and promotion procedures;
  • Advertising all jobs as open to flexible working from day one;
  • Actively promoting shared parental leave to staff;
  • Developing short apprenticeship 
  • programmes; and Providing opportunities for mentorship schemes.


Rebecca Hilsenrath, EHRC CEO, said: “Earlier this year gender pay gap reporting shone a light on some of the issues women face when accessing, progressing and staying in the workplace. As we head towards the second year of reporting, the attention now needs to shift towards employers, who must play their part in reducing the gap, starting with publicly setting out how they intend to address it in their organisations.

“Specific and time-bound action plans can do more than just identify the barriers holding women back in the workplace – they can help to create an environment where female employees can flourish, as well as demonstrate to employees, customers and shareholders a commitment to improving working practices, and can enhance the organisation’s reputation.  

“We’d like to see them go further and are calling for the government to make the publication of action plans mandatory.”

Disability and age discrimination 

Another British poll, by technology company Wildgoose, shows that about 47 per cent of male employees “don’t consider the gender pay gap to be a major issue”. 

And over 50 per cent of the 117 people questioned felt the inclusion of disabled people was the area that required the greatest improvement within their organisation.

The diversity of age groups came in a close second – with just under half saying this aspect demands attention.

The results raise concerns that dual discrimination based on disability and age is common practice in the workplace, highlighting a need for companies to undergo additional diversity training in this area.

Other significant findings show that nearly half (47 per cent) of male employees don’t consider the gender pay gap to be a big issue compared with three-quarters of women who do – a worrying statistic given the recent publication of big companies’ gender pay gaps, and media coverage of the issue.

But the gap between men and women narrowed as 67 per cent of men rated equal promotional opportunities as a highly important issue compared with 61 per cent of women.

Jim Alexander, head of learning and development at Wildgoose, said: “Despite organisations making headway in relation to diversity and inclusion policy, there is still a long way to go before we achieve inclusivity across all cross-sections of the workforce.   

Emma Potter