Gender pay gap figures skate over nuances of pay inequality: panel

Gender pay gap reporting should be supplemented by internal reporting in order to capture the full nuance and complexity of pay inequality, panellists said during a virtual Insider Progress event.

In a virtual webinar discussing the importance of data collection in the pursuit of a more diverse and inclusive workplace, panellists noted that current gender pay reporting had made some progress, and highlighted issues around the lack of women in senior positions and attracting female talent. 

However, they added that the limited data set brushes over the nuances of pay inequality.

Kishan Mangat, an associate at DWF and co-chair of the Insurance Cultural Awareness Network, explained: “[The gender pay gap data] doesn’t really pick up the nuances within a workforce effectively, and so… there’s a lack of detail about people who work part time, the representation of other minorities.” 

The average median gender pay gap for the insurance sector was 30 percent for 2019, compared to 30.3 percent in 2018, analysis by Insurance Insider has shown. This compares to the all-UK-company median average for 2019 of 12.9 percent.

This year, gender pay gap reporting requirements in the UK were suspended due to coronavirus. As such, only 28 risk carriers and 12 broking firms completed the data entry task this year, as of 12 May 2020, compared with 44 carriers and 21 brokers last year. The same cohort of reporting companies were included in the 2019 analysis for year-on-year comparison.

However, panellists on the webinar noted that while some aspects of reporting did not encapsulate the full picture, it could raise awareness for other forms of pay inequality such as ethnicity and race, disability and pensions.

Louisa Blain, director of People Advisory Services at EY, said: “When we start to start to extend out how do we take this data further, how do we start to think about intersectionality…and how do we therefore interpret some of the nuances around that to really drive behavioural change in the business.”

She added that complimenting external and internal reporting with “lived experiences” was very helpful in getting people to engage with diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives.

Mangat added: “Gender pay gap reporting has actually led us to then talk about pay gap reporting with regards to black, Asian and ethnic minorities.

“It’s important for employers to understand that these are two really taboo subjects that many employees will not want to talk about: pay and race. But I think ultimately… it’s encouraging to see so many people participate in the conversation and for that conversation to be had.” 

They reiterated that it was important for companies to do work on reporting internally as well as externally.

Lloyd’s global D&I manager Marc McKenna-Coles said internal reporting would allow companies to get a “viewpoint” on what the pay gap looks like, and that this would allow them to take formulate action to gain momentum on D&I actions.

“It is all about taking that constant responsibility in organisations as well” he noted.

Panellists also emphasised the importance of being an ally, especially in relation to recent protests in the US over police brutality against the black community.

Mangat said: “Always centre the conversation on the impacted, listen and learn from those who live with the oppressive, leverage your privilege and yield the floor to them. Let them have their say.” 

You can listen to a playback of the Insider Progress webinar here. More information and guidance on internal data collection can be found in this toolkit put together by Lloyd’s.

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