Lovewell’s logic – Gender pay gap reporting: the final frenzy

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

This Wednesday (4 April) saw us reach the deadline for private sector organisations with more than 250 employees to report their gender pay gap data.

Over the last few months, there has been much discussion about when employers should choose to report their figures. One school of thought was that it was in organisations’ best interests to do so ahead of deadline, especially if they had a strong narrative around how they intend to tackle any gap. Others, meanwhile, tactically left it to the last minute to do so, in many cases, in the hope they would be able to hide their data among the final flood of employers submitting their reports.

Anecdotally, we also heard of a group of organisations in one particular sector that collectively agreed to all publish their gender pay gap data on the final day in an attempt to draw attention away from any single one.

It seems that leaving this until the last minute – whether intentionally or not – was a popular choice. In the 24 hours leading up to 4 April, more organisations submitted their reports than in the 300 days prior. And reports continued to flood in during the day itself.

Personally, I found it fascinating watching reports come in of the organisations that had left it to the last day to report. Based on the number of live blogs and Twitter feeds focusing on this, I was far from the only one. Anyone who had hoped to bury their reports may well have been sorely disappointed given the level of scrutiny on the day.

In any case, the fact that anyone can openly search the government’s gender pay reporting website for details of any submitted reports means that, even if an organisation slipped through unnoticed on the day, this does not mean its gender pay gap details are not in the public domain. A number of gender pay gap ‘calculators’ have also begun to appear on websites such as the BBC’s, making it even easier for individuals to view their employer’s gender pay gap data and compare this to others, for example.

Media attention, meanwhile, looks set to continue as analysis into particular sectors and trends is ongoing.

Organisations reporting high, or surprising or unexpected gender pay gaps, meanwhile, may find that they are revisited over time to see how, or if, this is changing.

Over the coming year, it will be interesting to see how committed organisations are to the actions they have pledged to take to reduce their gender pay gaps. Undoubtedly, many will be keen to show the beginnings of improvement by the time of their next gender pay report.

Interestingly, at the time of writing, 11 organisations had already reported their gender pay gap data for 2018 using a snapshot date of 5 April 2018. I wonder how many more are likely to do so at such an early stage in the coming weeks?

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell