Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer, FDM Group

Why it’s time to reprioritise gender equality in the workplace 

Before 2020, gender pay equality was slowly improving, and organisations were beginning to introduce proactive measures to engage women and provide equal opportunity at all levels. However, due to the immediate impact of Covid-19, business operations were reprioritised, and in the eyes of some companies, gender equality measures suddenly paled in comparison to the devastating virus, which was stripping people of their jobs and health, and forcing some businesses to close their doors for good.

As a result, previously compulsory gender pay reporting was suspended for a year. And whilst this was probably the right decision at the time, there is no doubt that there has been a significant set back in gender equality in the workplace.

In fact, new CIPD research shows that Gender-based disparities in the workplace persist, even at leadership level. This is confirmed by Acevo’s Pay and Equalities Survey 2020, which highlights how significant inequality still exists in the workplace, and emphasises that companies must begin to do more in order to ensure female leaders are treated equally and receive appraisals just as much as male chief executives.

Admittedly, achieving equality, even at leadership level, requires persistent effort from the board and the wider company to ensure the right recruitment and support systems are in place. There is a long way to go in ensuring women are given the same opportunity and pay as men, but resuming gender equality initiatives, and continuing to report gender pay gap figures, even if they are less than desirable, is a great place to start.

FDM Group has always been a strong supporter of gender pay gap reporting and have recently announced a median gender pay of -2.1% per cent - our best results to date. These figures underline the fact that despite the disruption, chaos and heartache caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, we will continue to honour our commitment to building an increasingly diverse workforce and ensure women are given access top positions.

FDM Group has been recognised as an early adopter of gender pay gap reporting introduced by the UK Government in April 2017, and even decided to disclose figures this year, despite the mandatory requirement being removed. Gender pay gap reporting requires employers with 250 or more employees to publish statutory calculations every year showing how large the pay gap is between their male and female employees. In 2016, a report from McKinsey & Co showed that eliminating work-related gender pay gaps could add £150bn to annual UK GDP by 2025 through enhanced productivity and business reputation.

FDM is proud to announce our best results to date. These figures underline the fact that we honour our commitment to building an increasingly diverse workforce and ensure women are given access exciting new careers.  

Achieving these results has not been easy, it has required a concerted effort from the board and the wider company to ensure we have the right recruitment, training, and support systems in place to ensure pay is fair, even when employees have taken time out to have a family or career break. Developing the next generation of female leaders is critical for FDM’s continued success. Diversity is in our DNA and in times of disruption, FDM Group’s values and vision for the future will always shine through.

Additionally, at FDM Group we ensure that 33.5 per cent of women are in the company’s higher quartile pay bracket, up from 28.3 per cent last year, and the bonus pay gap has decreased to just -3.6 per cent, down substantially from -5.0 per cent in 2019 and 14.8 per cent in 2018.

We are also continuing to sponsor the FDM everywoman in Technology Awards and are playing an active role in events such as London Tech Week. Key to the continued success this year and beyond is the commitment to innovation and a relentless effort to recruit, train and deploy the next generation of talent.

To achieve a low median gender pay gap, organisations must focus on recruitment, training, and mentoring of women across the business, and support those returning to work, perhaps after having children. This will enable reward high performing women with better pay and bonuses.

Furthermore, business leaders can certainly do more to close the gender pay gap. For a start, organisations must reprioritise recruitment, training, and mentoring of women across the business, and support those returning to work, perhaps after having children, or returning from furlough. This will reward high performing women with better pay and bonuses and go a long way to closing the gender pay gap.

Finally, employers that use high quality data to understand the drivers of their gender pay gap, will be able to target their actions and therefore deliver the most effective results. Small changes like this will be a great place to start for organisations, large and small, to begin on the journey of improving their gender pay gap even in spite of the economic uncertainty and operational challenges that is afflicting the globe.

Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer, FDM Group

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