Gender pay regulations: Businesses need to tackle culture of ‘casual’ gender discrimination

06 April 2017 -


New research – released on the day that the Gender Pay Gap Regulations are introduced – reveals challenges UK businesses face to bring about gender parity in the workplace

Matt Scott

Companies with 250 or employees are now required to publish details on what they pay male and female staff following today’s launch of the government’s gender pay reporting regulation.

By turning employers’ attention to what they pay their men and women, the Government has taken an important step forward in its campaign to put promote gender diversity in the workplace.

Further reading: CMI’s expert guide to the new gender pay regulations

A new CMI survey of 851 UK managers, however, has revealed that four in five (81%) managers have witnessed gender discrimination or bias in their workplace in the last year alone, and steps must be taken to address the organisational culture that allows this discrimination to remain in British business.

Despite 86% of managers being in favour of a more gender-balanced workplace, CMI’s research suggests this is not translating into meaningful action to prevent or challenge negative behaviours. Just 42% of managers who said they witnessed bias in pay or remuneration decisions in the past 12 months said they had taken direct action to challenge the behavior.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke urged managers to speak out in the fight for gender equality.

“The gender pay reporting regulations are a great way to encourage employers to figure out how they can equalise what they pay their men and women,” she said. “Creating transparency and setting targets are just the start; businesses must take a hard look at the reality of the many causes, like casual gender discrimination.

“We may live in more enlightened times but clearly we still have some way to go. Men and women have an equal role in creating a company culture that benefits all, so managers must call out any bad behaviour whenever they witness it.”

“Today’s regulation is a real opportunity to create a more inclusive, more diverse, and more productive workforce – all of which is vital if Britain is to thrive post-Brexit,” she added.

CMI’s research also reveals the need for employers to change how they support men to improve gender equality within their organisations. Some 41% of managers admitted that they have never supported a man in taking longer paternity leave, and nearly a quarter (24%) have never supported a man in a flexible working request to accommodate childcare needs.

Finding the missing middle

According to CMI Women, the UK economy will need two million new managers by 2024 – and 1.5 million of these will need to be women if we are to achieve gender balance. The economic argument for bridging the gender gap is clear: McKinsey calculates that it would add as much as £150bn to the economy by 2025 if eradicated completely.

Heather Melville, chair of CMI Women and CMI board member, said CMI Women would continue to work with both men and women to help forge a path to meeting the 2024 target for new women managers.

“Diverse leadership is great for business, so closing the gender pay gap will benefit us all,” she said. “CMI Women is working with employers to share the many great ideas and the practices that have made positive changes in promoting gender equality.

“Our Blueprint for Balance sets out the many ways that men can promote gender equality, strengthen their organisations and help us reach our target of 1.5 million more women in management by 2024.”

How you can play your part

CMI is all about developing and enabling brilliant leaders; giving them the management skills they need to fulfill their own potential and unlock the potential of others.

At the heart of this commitment is a belief that diversity is the foundation for good leadership and management as it improves financials, creates a better culture and ensures less risky decision making.

That's why we've launched CMI Women. We want organisations to embrace gender diversity and put it at the heart of their agenda and business practice.

CMI Women will inspire and support women throughout their careers and provide organisations with a Blueprint for Balance so they can benefit from being a gender diverse organisation.

To achieve this we are focusing on three key areas:

Creating high performing, balanced teams - Organisations to use the Blueprint for Balance to share best practice, implement new strategies and achieve 50/50 leadership;

Highlighting men as agents of change - Prompting men to become everyday champions of women at work and agents of change, driving organisational strategies for balance; and

Tackling the missing middle – Increasing the number of women in middle management positions and enabling emerging women leaders to unlock their potential.

Click here to find out more about joining CMI Women

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