Inclusivity group’s ‘call for action’ on gender-pay-gap reporting

Kate Wright Picture: ROB CURRIE. (38555370)

PUBLISHING gender pay gap data effects positive change within businesses, three panellists this week told a round table event.

Dozens of Islanders gathered on Monday evening for an informal and impassioned discussion, the fourth hosted by the Diversity Network, on how to close Jersey’s 12% gender pay gap.

The session and campaign’s leader Kate Wright, a cultural change specialist and founder of The Diversity Network, announced that the group is aiming to develop a “call to action” for businesses in the new year supported by evidence and discussion from the round tables.

The latest round table comes amid ongoing debate around the usefulness of private businesses publishing their data on the disparity.

The States Assembly will be asked in the coming months whether all businesses employing more than 50 people should be required by law to publish their data.

The panellists represented businesses which have chosen to report their gender pay statistics without the legislation in place.

Carla Benest from Mourant, James Wetherall from Affinity Private Wealth, and Selina Zenonos from Jersey Electricity spoke about the positive effects on recruitment, equality, productivity and transparency within their businesses.

They argued that it was less about being a “tick box exercise” and more about the consequent engagement and discussions with staff as a result of the data being published.

“The shocking figure was a rocket up the backside to make some changes,” they said.

After the event, Kate Wright said: “Our brilliant panellists didn’t let us down with their honest and very practical insights, and a really engaged and passionate audience ensured that we had another very inspiring evening of discussion and debate.

“The case to act now to close the gap and improve gender equality on our island is compelling and pressing – for business performance, for the wider, long-term economic and social impacts and because it is simply the right thing to do.

“We need to work hard to ensure that key stakeholders understand the pressing need to act and how gender pay gap reporting, although not a silver bullet, is an important part of the solution to closing the gap. We want to bring everyone with us.”

When one attendee asked how many women in the room, when looking for a new employer, would take a look at their gender pay gap figures before accepting the job, nearly all hands were raised.

Earlier this year, 32 influential businesswomen wrote to politicians urging them to support the proposition requiring private-sector companies to publish their gender pay gap.

Primary signatory Mrs Wright also invited all 49 politicians to the round-table discussion, saying that constructive open discussions with businessmen and women who have lived experience of their industries could be a new way of working and developing policy.

The group argued in their letter to States Members that improving female participation in the workplace was an “economic imperative” for Jersey in the context of an ageing population and falling fertility rates and required “urgent and meaningful action” from employers and government.

The round-table discussions began in response to the news that the average gross hourly earnings of men are 12% higher than those of women.

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