Beyond Gender Pay Gap Reporting: Building an Inclusive Workforce in 2024

March 18, 2024
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Beyond Gender Pay Gap Reporting: Building an Inclusive Workforce in 2024

Since 2017, UK employers with more than 250 employees have had to report annually their gender pay gap. The idea behind these rules is to encourage pay transparency, expose unfair pay practices and ultimately break down structural drivers of inequality. 

But, seven years after the rules were brought in, there is still a gender pay gap in the UK. According to the latest ONS data, it’s currently sitting at 14.3% (7.7% for full-time employees). At the current rate of change, it will take more than 20 years for the gap to close. 

Clearly, gender pay gap reporting alone is not enough to solve this problem. In this article, we’ll discuss how companies can go beyond mandatory gender pay gap reporting to build an inclusive workplace that works for their female employees — with help from our friends at Flexa

The problem with gender pay gap reporting 

Don’t get us wrong: mandatory gender pay gap reporting is definitely a step in the right direction. Forcing employers to go public about their gender pay gap holds them accountable and brings shady pay practices out into the open. 

And there is evidence that it works: when a similar piece of legislation was introduced in Denmark, it resulted in a 7% reduction of the country’s gender pay gap. But there’s a catch. This was achieved primarily by slowing growth for male employees’ compensation — and there was no significant change to the average woman’s salary. 

Plus, the UK’s gender pay gap reporting requirements only require companies to report on their gender pay gap — not to do anything about it. This is in contrast to the rules set out in the EU pay transparency directive, which will require EU companies to take corrective action if they find a gender pay gap of 5% or more. 

And of course, the gender pay gap isn’t the only way of measuring equality (or inequality) in the workplace. According to our own data, women in Europe hold 51.7% of junior roles, but only 16.8% of C-level positions in 2024.  In the UK, only 19% of SMEs are majority led by women. And women are 8x more likely than men to have faced discrimination in the workplace. 

The point is, while mandatory reporting is a good start, it’s not enough to achieve pay parity between men and women. And it’s certainly not going to resolve all of the other inequalities that women face at work. 

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6 practical ways to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in 2024 

So, what can companies do to support their female employees and close their gender pay gap?

To find out, we asked our friends at Flexa how companies can promote diversity, equity and inclusion in 2024. Flexa is a global directory of verified flexible companies, which allows candidates to search for jobs that guarantee flexibility, and employers to showcase their employer brand. 

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Define your commitment to inclusion 

TL;DR: Start by defining what inclusivity means to your organisation — and the steps you’ll take to get there. 

“A good starting point is to define your company's inclusive values and mission statements. This will help you create a workplace that welcomes diversity and should be something everyone who already works for you or is thinking of joining your company can easily see. 

It’s all well and good having DEI targets but if you’re not clear on how you are going to achieve these goals, you will struggle to recruit diverse talent. If you have targets related to gender equality in your workplace, clearly show how you will be working to achieve them.”

2. Remove bias from your job descriptions

TL;DR: Use your job descriptions to speak to a diverse candidate pool, and highlight what you’re doing to support your female employees.

“If you’re wanting to attract a more diverse pool of candidates, your job descriptions should reflect this. Create job descriptions and messages that speak to a diverse group of candidates and emphasise a culture of fairness and equal opportunities. 

Maternity policies, childcare benefits, and flexible working options are likely to appeal to and engage women, so it's important to highlight them clearly on your job descriptions and careers pages. 

Use places like Flexa to transparently showcase to your candidates exactly what is on offer at your company, and be open about the current gender split in your organisation.”

3. Leave the one-size-fits all approach behind 

TL;DR: Introduce flexible working policies that ensure everyone’s needs are met — and be upfront about what you’re offering. 

“You can’t build an inclusive workplace without offering flexibility. Every one of us performs best in different environments. We all have different needs and likes, and our daily lives may be impacted by things like disabilities, health conditions, childcare, family caregiving and many more. 

It's also essential to be upfront with exactly the type of flexibility you offer, in order to match with aligned talent. The flexibility in your company shouldn't be exclusive or offered upon request; it should be accessible to all. And you can champion diversity by recognising that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work for everyone.” 

4. Normalise flexibility for the entire workforce 

TL;DR: Flexibility can benefit everyone — and making it the norm helps to fight gender discrimination. 

“Flexibility is a feminist issue, but it’s not just for women. By normalising flexibility across the entire workforce we can combat discrimination between 'office' and 'remote' employees. 

This benefits women in advancing their careers while balancing family life and allows more fathers to be actively involved in parenting. 

Flexible working isn't exclusive to women or mothers. Until it becomes the standard for all genders, we jeopardise the earning potential and career growth of working mothers, which is unacceptable.”

5. Support women’s health in the workplace 

TL;DR: Rethink your benefits programme to ensure you’re supporting your female employees. 

“Women face various health issues at work, including menopause, period pain, infertility and egg freezing. All of these have a place in the workplace and should be taken seriously by employers striving to create an inclusive environment. 

By integrating health supportive policies into your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, you demonstrate your commitment to valuing and supporting individuals who are navigating these concerns. Openly addressing these can help employees feel understood during a potentially challenging time. 

Offering flexible work options, such as adjustable schedules or remote work, means women can manage symptoms more effectively and maintain productivity by working in environments where they feel most comfortable.”

6. Showcase your culture of inclusion 

TL;DR: Use Flexa to make sure candidates know about your commitment to flexible work!  

“In order to make the most of your DEI efforts, you need to be shouting about it in the right places. By using an employer branding platform like Flexa you can clearly showcase your commitment to DEI allowing you to attract, retain and engage diverse talent.

Encourage employees who are benefiting from your inclusive workplace policies to share their genuine experiences. Representation and social proof goes a long way in building your Employer Brand.”

The real impact of flexible working 

Flexa’s 2023–24 Flexible Working Report found that, despite candidates preferring remote work, more and more companies are reverting to requiring employees to be in the office.  

This is extremely worrying, because flexible working is key to addressing gender diversity in the workplace. Studies show that when women have the option of flexible working, they are twice as likely to continue working after having children. They’re also more likely to succeed in their careers — particularly when they have the support of their partner for childcare. 

In other words, flexible working helps everyone — and it’s the key to breaking down the barriers that prevent women from progressing. 

How do we know this is true? The proof is in the pudding, and companies that use Flexa to showcase their flexible working policies have seen some impressive results. For example, recruitment agency Hydrogen Group now has a pipeline made up of 76.4% women. And data consultancy Amplifi has seen a 65% increase in their representation of diverse talent. 

In 2023, Flexa also saw a 50% rise in Asian candidates, a 6% increase in black candidates, and 45% increase in those identifying with mixed or multiple ethnic backgrounds. Flexa’s users are roughly 2.5x more diverse than an average tech company — highlighting the importance of workplace flexibility in building an employer brand that appeals to diverse candidates. 

The fact is that in 2024, flexible working policies are no longer a nice-to-have — they’re absolutely crucial if you want to attract diverse talent and build an inclusive workplace that works for everyone.

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Learn more 

Want to learn more about the state of gender equality in the workplace in 2024? Check out these articles: 

You can also check out Flexa’s 2023–24 Flexible Working Report for more insights on the state of the workforce in 2024 — including a contribution from Figures! 

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