Jennifer Millins: A dry run of gender pay gap metrics can help flag up vulnerabilities


Larger employers have until 4 April 2018 to disclose their gender pay gaps.

Many businesses are still gathering data. Ascertaining which staff are in-scope, and calculating weekly working hours and hourly rates of pay can be challenging, particularly when long-term absences and atypical working arrangements arise. Bonuses, share plans and flexible benefit schemes can also be complex areas to navigate.

However, gender pay reporting is not just about statistics. Once employers have a proper understanding of the data gathered, it is crucial they plan carefully to ensure minimal impact on reputation, recruitment and retention. 

Employers should carry out a dry run of all metrics, even if they do not plan to release the information now, to identify any problematic statistics and vulnerabilities. Gender pay statistics can fuel equal pay and discrimination claims, so employers should consider conducting their analysis with lawyers to maintain privilege. Also organisations should ensure it has correctly identified its four quartiles; small errors can significantly distort the data.

Although not obligatory, an accompanying narrative is very important. This allows employers to contextualise the data and explain any gaps. If information for prior years is available, run that data to see if a positive pattern can be identified for the narrative. Employers can also illustrate figures in a visual format in the narrative if they are positive.

The narrative should be used to describe measures the organisation is taking to close the gender pay gap. Much of the data published to date shows a lack of women in senior roles, so employers should consider whether to address gender diversity as well as equal pay in the narrative.

Finally, identify which senior individual will sign off on, and confirm the accuracy of, the data, and take a look at what competitors are doing by studying any data and narratives already published.

Jennifer Millins is partner at law firm Mishcon de Reya