Our consultants Laura McNair and Roisin Ashmore recently attended Willis Towers Watson’s briefing: ‘Are you equipped to mind the gap? Next steps in Gender Pay Gap reporting’, hosted by HR in Law and presented by Alasdair Wood and Jessica Norton, Senior Directors in the firm’s Talent & Reward practice. 

Whilst some firms have already disclosed their gender pay gap statistics, as of the date of the session, 85% had not and the deadline is only a few weeks away, 4th April 2018.  Companies are required to report differences in average hourly pay, the median hourly pay of male and female employees, as well similar statistics for bonus and the proportion of men and women in each hourly pay quartile.

Addressing the Gender Pay Gap


Many in the press and the public are confusing gender pay gaps and equal pay gaps.  Simply put, equal pay is about pay for individuals in similar roles whereas gender pay gaps reflect a broader range of factors such as the number of people of each gender in the company and at different levels, and rates of progression to senior roles.

Willis Towers Watson confirmed there are large gender pay gaps in some UK companies, particularly in financial services (average 35.1%) but also in legal services (24.2%), and much work is needed to close the gap as a higher proportion of women are in lower paying functions, work in part-time roles and there is a strong pattern of senior men receiving higher pay and bonuses.

Firms are responding to this issue in a variety of ways: publishing Gender Pay Gap statistics is only the minimum, with many taking time to understand the drivers, analysing HR policies and processes contributing to the gap, and agreeing short and long-term actions, whilst developing a communication strategy internally and externally. 

And the conclusions as to what is driving the gap? A very broad range of factors including for example unconscious bias in recruitment, talent and performance assessment and promotions as well as in bonuses paid, and less obvious factors such as the language used in job adverts. Drivers vary from company to company, but all will be held accountable by their employees and external parties, so strong analysis needs to take place to ensure findings and consequent actions are evidence based.

FTSE100 companies have reported the following interventions to improve the Gender Pay Gap:

  1. Reducing and removing gender bias from recruitment, promotion and performance management
  2. Supporting external initiatives, networks and awards to showcase female role models
  3. Introducing a female mentoring programme.

Willis Towers Watson’s key advice is to be prepared - reporting on your statistics alone is not enough. Employees matter and you will need to take an internal and external approach to your communication strategy. Tell the group story and do not hide away from your statistics.  Welcome the change because it can only be a good thing for diversity, increased women in senior roles, and to differentiate yourself in an ever-competitive talent market.

Thanks to Alasdair Wood and Jessica Norton from Willis Towers Watson for sharing with us their experience and a helpful summary of market practice.



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