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The gender pay reporting process will in many cases expose a gender imbalance across senior and middle management teams. If an organisation finds itself in this position, it should view the report as an opportunity to explain the reasons why, along with any plans it has developed to address it.

While organisations could set out to meet the minimum reporting requirements, there are risks attached. For this reason, the overall context to their gender pay gap should be given careful consideration. Below we summarise the steps organisations should take to help produce a report that can add value to their efforts in how they attract and retain the best talent, ultimately leading to improvements in business performance.

Determine the audience. At the outset, organisations should consider how their gender pay gap report will be used and who will read it. In addition to senior management and employees, it may be of interest to prospective employees, investors and journalists. This will determine how the report should be contextualised and presented.

Prepare a project plan. A project team should be established comprising representatives from the C-suite, human resources, finance and corporate communications. A plan should be agreed, with the most important aspect being the target date by which the report should be produced by.

Determine which information to be collated. Organisations can choose to meet the minimum reporting requirements, or provide additional information to better explain their current situation and how they plan to progress from where they are today (if they decide there’s a need to). How organisations choose to contextualise their data will determine which information needs to be collated at the outset.

Devising a communication plan. Employees organisation-wide should be made aware of the reporting requirements as they may be required to update their records if they are self-serve. Organisations may also choose to undertake qualitative analysis to better understand what their data is telling them, and the barriers to change that may need to be addressed as part of any business change plan.

Gathering the data. The data may exist in one or more locations. If so, organisations will need to determine how the data will be obtained. Fields and formats may be different and consideration should be given to how the data can be collated into a consistent format. Engagement with external system providers may be required.

Analysing the data. Organisations should understand what the data is telling them - and why. They need to consider the implications of the findings and highlight areas that could be contentious, or introduce risk. To address, change may be required in areas such as recruitment policies, talent pipeline management, flexible working policies, performance measures and culture. How the organisation plans to address change should also be included.

Publishing the report. Organisations consider using the gender pay gap report to enhance their brand perception among internal and external stakeholders. If they choose to, they could publicise their findings and plans widely. Organisations who consider themselves leaders in their field are more likely to report early in trade and consumer press, and through social media.

Implementing change. As the reports are required to be published annually, external stakeholders and observers will be able to track progress. If an organisation care’s about addressing its gender pay gap, it should make a senior executive (ideally a board member) accountable for the implementation of its change plan with the aim of demonstrating that it’s making progress year by year. 

While gender pay gap reporting could be seen as a compliance overhead, it can deliver business benefits if the reporting process is managed in the right way, and if it receives the appropriate level of sponsorship from senior management. It will provide many organisations with the opportunity to think about how they are supporting women with career development and progression, and what more can be done to create greater gender balance in working practices across the organisation for the benefit of all.

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