Bring the gender pay gap conversation out of the boardroom Many think the gender pay gap belongs to the elite; that it concerns discrepancies between the salaries of big-name actors or BBC talent. This impression may stem from the fact the newly enforced pay gap reporting only applies to companies with over 250 staff.
But why publish early, what was the thinking behind that, you wonder? To be as upfront as possible and set the standard. ?As a leading company within our sector, it?s crucial we lead by example and publish our pay. We?re proud of our results and as we were ready to share the figures, we thought there would be interest in publishing the results early,? recalled Branch. ?There is a gap, which we?re not proud of, and there?s still more for us to do. However, you?ll see from the report that there was a positive closing in the gap. We?ve closed it by 3.7 per cent over the past year. We?re proud of this and are keen to get our message out about how important it is for us as a business to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.? In terms of the nationwide pay gap being so much higher than the one at Weetabix, Branch diplomatically said he can?t comment on other manufacturers, only that he hopes the gender pay gap reporting calls for the discussion to be moved up the agenda for businesses. Explaining how the Weetabix pay gap is so much smaller, Branch called it an ongoing process. ?31 per cent of our workforce is female, and we want to make sure there is nothing stopping more coming into the business,? he said. ?We?re working on initiatives to promote inclusion across all our teams, such as growing our apprenticeships, encouraging more flexibility in our working practices and employee benefits, and promoting self-development through our learning programmes.?
Not wanting to dictate how an SME should reduce any gender pay gaps, Branch recognised that all companies are different. However, he said transparency is crucial and the reporting legislation could push people into action. ?The more companies that publish their results, the better, as it puts pressure on all businesses to reduce the gender pay gap ? and that can only be a good thing,? he said. Weetabix, meanwhile, plans to reduce the gender pay gap in the business even further in the coming years, which will be achieved by analysing data and policies to erase any unconscious bias. ?For example, where previously our working hours may have better suited some people than others, now we have flexible working hours. Through our Weetabix people survey we are getting really good feedback on these policies and can see that they are being well respected and appreciated by the team,? he said. ?For us, it?s about making sure we always continue to do the right thing, even when no one is watching. We?re doing all the right things, and have done so for a number of years now.? Branch noted that the main challenge for the business is the fact that the manufacturing industry in which Weetabix operates is largely male-dominated, so numbers are skewed by men. ?We therefore want to make sure we make Weetabix an attractive place to work, to ensure we continue to attract, recruit and retain women in equal proportion to men,? Branch explained. As for whether SMEs with under 250 people should publish results, he pointed that they have other issues to manage, though steps can still be taken. Branch concluded: ?Obviously, there are pressures on smaller companies who might not have resources to tackle gender pay gap issues, but hopefully we will get to a place where all businesses are proactively ensuring that gender is not a factor in decision making.?
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