Don’t panic: There’s time to prepare communications around your gender pay gap

There has been a flurry of commentary recently about the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) publishing employer gender pay gaps on February 27. It would be understandable if communications teams were starting to panic.

The good news is that there is no need to panic. There is still plenty of time to prepare.

Lucy Bradlow, executive manager, communications and campaigns at Workplace Gender Equality Agency, gives you all the information you need right now to plan and begin communicating with your key stakeholders about what will be released.

Here are my top five tips for communications teams as they think about the lead up to February 27.

1. Make sure you have all the information ready

Every employer already has all the gender pay gap information that will be published on 27 February. Speak to your WGEA reporting team and make sure you have the base salary and total remuneration median gender pay gaps at the ready. The last thing you want is to be shocked on the day by what will be published.

WGEA will also be publishing gender composition and average remuneration per pay quartile. This will be represented as a chart compromising four bar graphs (see example here). Each bar graph will have the percentage of men and women in each pay quartile and the average salary in that pay quartile. Don’t sleep on this information! It will show the difference in the average salary of the top earners and bottom earners in your organisation and may be particularly relevant to internal audiences.

2. Understand your context

You may look at your gender pay gap and think it looks bad – or good – but context is key. WGEA defines an optimal gender pay gap as between -5% and +5%. That means the median of what a man is paid is between 5 per cent less or more than the median of what a woman is paid.

But in some industries in particular, this range is very difficult to get to. Why? Because the talent pipeline for certain roles, particularly STEM roles, is still limited, or the working conditions for other roles, particularly shift roles, are very difficult to attract women to.

Many companies are doing a lot to correct for these challenges, but it is a process and getting to an optimal gender pay gap will take time. Many of these challenges also can’t be overcome by companies alone. They need policy change and cultural change, particularly around societal expectations of care.

3. Don’t forget your internal audience

Your employees are arguably the most important audience in this process – and different employees may have different opinions on your gender pay gap and your proposed actions on workplace gender equality. Discount your internal audience at your own peril!

We are already seeing lots of employers taking proactive action to include their employees in their gender equality journey. Some employers are hosting all staff meetings and webinars to explain what is going to happen on 27 February, others are

presenting their gender equality action plans, others are consulting employees on their gender equality strategies. Now is the time to bring your employees into your gender equality planning.

4. Workplace gender equality does not end on February 27.

I’m sure a lot of you will have noticed that International Women’s Day (IWD) is just over a week after the publication of gender pay gaps! It’s a good reminder that workplace gender equality is a journey. The publication of your gender pay gaps is just the first step in improving gender equality at your organisation and at every workplace in the country. If you can use markers like IWD to demonstrate you are taking gender equality seriously – regardless of your gender pay gap – then you will be in a better position than trying to ignore your gender pay gap.

Shortly after gender pay gaps were published in the UK, an anonymous citizen started a “gender pay gap bot” which highlighted companies that posted about celebrating women on IWD but also had a large gender pay gap. The best way to proactively counter this type of negative attention is to be upfront about what your gender pay gap is and what you are doing – not make platitudes about how you support women.

5. Last, but not least, WGEA is here to help.

We have a Communications 10 Point Guide with more information about the gender pay gap publication process. Our team is now running live masterclasses and learning events to help employers deepen their understanding of workplace gender equality and take effective action to narrow their gender pay gap. These are a great way for you and your teams to get informed and take action.

Publishing employer gender pay gaps on February 27 is not about naming and shaming, it’s about naming and changing. I hope that this is an opportunity to begin that changing process.

Lucy Bradlow, executive manager, communications and campaigns, at Workplace Gender Equality Agency


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.