On Thursday 6 April, mandatory gender pay-gap reporting for companies of 250 staff or more came into effect – but in the days before that deadline, research from careers site totaljobs exposed dire levels of preparedness among UK firms.

In its survey of 4,700 staffers and 145 organisations, the careers site found that a staggering 82% of employers weren’t reviewing their gender equality/equal pay policies, even with the deadline fast approaching. Meanwhile:

  • 58% didn’t have comprehensively audited salary information that spans roles and genders;
  • Only 53% felt “very confident” that the salaries they pay are equal on gender terms, and
  • Just over half weren’t coaching their management to promote gender equality or equal pay.

It’s a dismal picture that hints at a widespread lack of interest in this issue among managers and leaders. What exactly is the problem here – and what kind of benefits could companies realise by changing their attitudes on gender pay and closing the gap?

The Institute of Leadership & Management's CEO Phil James says: “Making organisations attractive places for all talents to work in, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or gender, is a critical step. A company that is seen to take the gender pay gap seriously – applying appropriate levels of honesty, transparency and proactivity – is a far better place than one that’s trying to give the impression that it doesn’t really matter.”

James adds: “There’s a huge problem with the laissez-faire stance that suggests the gender-pay issue is already under control – as in, ‘Oh, it’s so much better now… I can remember when the gap was much, much wider, so over time it will just sort itself out’.

“Organisations need to realise what they’ll sacrifice if they remain behind the curve, because the impression that their sluggishness will leave in the public eye serves to indicate a whole range of things that aren’t restricted to gender. It will flag up your firm’s likely attitude to innovation – or to looking forward in any respect.”

For thoughts on how to build a diversity training programme, check out this leaning item from the Institute