Philip Whiteley's Blog

September 19, 2017

It’s the culture, of course

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 4:32 pm

The gender pay gap is caused in large part by unconscious biases, and requires cultural change rather than technical fixes, Rita Trehan, adviser on diversity and workplace culture to leading companies, told a London briefing today.

While this is a fairly obvious conclusion, from a behavioural perspective, the lessons that follow are not easy to implement, because ‘culture’ is so multi-dimensional and complex.

UK companies with more than 250 staff will be required to report on pay differentials from next year, she pointed out. ‘But I’m not sure that numbers are the most important part, because you can cut numbers in different ways. The big question is: What’s the real issue that we have to address? It could be not enough women in certain career paths.’

Employers ought to realize that fairness and diversity affect the employer brand, as well as motivation and performance. The recent controversy at the BBC starkly illustrated this, she said. ‘For a company like the BBC, which does a lot from a diversity perspective, as a core attribute, the branding is an issue for them. It put them under the spotlight from a gender perspective and [more generally] a diversity perspective. The top ten minority individuals earn about the same as Chris Evans.’

While companies often pride themselves on paying for performance, detailed statistical analysis often reveals that pay reflects a less meritocratic pattern, such as tenure, which tends to favour men. Mercer HR’s Workforce Science Institute, for example, has revealed such tendencies over the past 20 years, and now helps many large employers with their diversity strategies.

The trend is moving away from seeing equality as a compliance matter dominated by legislation and quotas, and more towards a performance culture. Some groups of male CEOs are starting to promote the agenda, including the highly influential Michael Bloomberg, said Rita.

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