PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) decided to lead by example on gender pay gap reporting. The organisation first reported its pay gap in 2014, and was looking at the issue prior to that.
So why did PWC first decided to reveal its pay gap to the world? Ed Stacey, partner and head of employment at PWC, says: “It comes back to the fact that PWC has ‘do the right thing’ in its core values. We knew we had a pay gap and actually, until you hold your feet to the fire, it is easy to put it off until next year. While things are private, you always have the option of not doing quite as much as if it’s in the public domain.”
Helping employees to understand the nature of PWC’s pay gap was very important, says Stacey. “Some of the reporting in the press has been relatively misleading and it is going to encourage people to think the person sitting next to them doing the same thing is being paid less,” he says. “That isn’t what it means.”
PWC’s own mean gender pay gap is 13.7%. From when it first reported, it recognised there was a challenge: “Obviously in the first year there was concern: will this cause us risk, either from an employee relations perspective or from a core pay claims perspective? But we were very clear that there isn’t a core pay issue, the challenge is demographics,” says Stacey.
“Demographics: one common [challenge] we see in PWC [and other organisations] is that, whether it is school leavers or graduates, they will typically attract similar numbers of men and women.”
He adds that pay disparity is virtually non-existent in large organisations until middle-management levels, and the reason behind this is that a lot of women leave the workforce for maternity leave and a proportion do not come back. They are often replaced by men, and, if they are paid a higher salary than the women who went on maternity leave, this will expand the pay gap, in addition to having a smaller proportion of women available for promotion to senior roles.
In its 2017 gender pay report, PWC states that it is approaching diversity in a number of ways including its returnship programme, reviewing recruitment processes, and making more senior jobs open to flexible working.
Employers should identify the problem before working out a solution, says Stacey. “If [an employer] purely has a demographic gap [for instance, an under-representation of women in senior positions, its] challenge is moving women into more senior positions and, or, having more men in more junior positions. There is a whole raft of solutions around this: encouraging women to come back from maternity leave, for example. That’s an area where women tend to leave the workforce and don’t come back. There are literally hundreds of different things [employers] can do to address that imbalance.”