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Business welcome gender pay gap rules but call for more boardroom diversity

The final Gender Pay Gap Reporting regulations are expected to come into force on October 1 and will require all organisations with 250 employees or over to annually report pay gap information between male and female staff.

Employers will be required to publish their first report by April 2018, based on pay data as at April 30 next year. Information on bonuses will be based on awards paid from April 2016 to April 2017.

According to the latest Office for National Statistics data, the gap between men and women’s pay for full-time workers was 9.4% in April 2015, compared with 9.6% in 2014. Although this is the lowest figure since the survey began in 1997, the gap has remained relatively unchanged for the past four years. 

Kevin Gale (pictured) of Grant Thornton’s Milton Keynes and Northampton offfices, said: “It’s encouraging to see the pay gap between men and women is now the lowest for almost two decades but there has still been relatively little change over the past four years, despite multiple campaigns, reports and high profile speeches.

“The hope for the new Gender Pay Gap Reporting regulations is that they will break this stagnation and help to close the gap whilst further promoting the cause for greater gender equality in the workplace.

"Also that large employers will be encouraged to consider how inequities might be affecting talent retention.

“However, organisations that do not already hold this information would be advised to start preparing now as although April 2018 may seem a long way off, they could have a lot of work to do, particularly as they will be required to report on bonuses paid for a 12-month period which started 1 May 2016.”

According to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report, the number of senior roles held by women in the UK has marginally declined, down to 21% from 22% in 2015.

The UK also has its highest recorded proportion of businesses with no women in senior management, standing at 36%.

Mr Gale said: “The gender diversity issue has been on the business agenda for many years now, yet more than a third of UK businesses still have no women at a senior management level. Something is not working.

“Grant Thornton’s research clearly underlines that businesses with diverse workforces can outperform their one dimensional peers and are better positioned to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment.

"Companies should resist ‘traditional’ thinking and welcome a range of perspectives in order to grow and meet today’s equally diverse range of challenges.”

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