Mandatory gender pay gap reporting has revealed that women aren’t in enough senior roles. That needs to change, writes Emily Booth
So the deadline for reporting the gender pay gap on 4 April has passed. And it has been illuminating. Not just in terms of how big the gap is within specific firms – and the construction sector has not come out of it well – but also in terms of the broader noise around the process.
Architecture certainly isn’t alone in this. In the wider business context, one can only imagine how management teams have sought to report numbers that do not reflect well on their businesses. Do you go live early, and get it over with quickly? Or do you hope your announcement is lost in the melée of last-minute filing? What’s the best PR line to take?
There have been many efforts to remind us all that the pay gap is not illegal. It’s not – we’re assured – that firms are paying women less for doing exactly the same jobs as men. The gap is there because men are often clustered at the top of firms, and women are more likely to be toiling in the lower echelons. Which is, of course, the whole problem.
Some have questioned whether the numbers are even the right ones to measure. Pay gap reporting requires firms employing more than 250 people to publish their median and mean gender pay gap figures; the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the pay structure; and the pay gaps for any bonuses paid out during the year.
You can argue about the merits of the mean and the median, and ask whether the hourly pay rate – the standard way of comparing payroll between firms – is the best measure. You can argue that the data has flaws.
But, as a snapshot of where we are now, this process is hugely significant. It’s too late to gloss over the pay gap problem or push it away. Forward-thinking firms are using gender pay gap reporting to sense-check where they’re at and make moves to close their gap. Women aren’t in enough senior roles. That needs to change.