Despite regulatory efforts to promote equal pay by imposing annual reporting requirements on companies in the UK, the gender pay gap widened in 2020, with women paid 87p for every £1 earned by men. In the fourth part in a series of online events celebrating Women in Risk and Control’s first anniversary, Change Gap Co-Founder and host Sarah Sinclair was joined by Frankie Kemp, Founder and CEO of frankiekemp.com and Nancy Roberts, Founder and CEO of Umbrella Analytics to discuss what women can do to improve their chances of achieving pay parity with men and the wider changes needed to support equal pay. 

 Here are five key takeaways from the webinar: 

1. Arm yourself with data 

Before seeking a salary increase, it is essential to find data that can help back up your request for more money, says Roberts. Gender pay-gap data is openly accessible in the UK, allowing you to check the pay gaps that exist in companies within your industry. “There is a lot you can get from that information,” says Roberts. “It might give you that backstop where if [your company] come back with an offer you might be able to say that’s not quite good enough… whereas without it, it might seem like a good offer and you say ‘ok, I will take that’.” If that pay gap data isn’t available, don’t be afraid to ask men directly what they are getting paid. People should also have in mind a salary band before asking for a rise so they know what the absolute minimum is they would accept, says Kemp. 

2. Tell your story 

Asking for a pay rise is not as straightforward as having a simple conversation. “There is a whole art to this—you have to think laterally, deeply and holistically,” says Sinclair. One way to master that art is to be able to tell a story. “You need to have your evidence (to back up your request for more money), but the evidence isn’t just data—it’s the way we put it into a story,” says Kemp. That means putting together a narrative in a way that people can empathise with rather than just reeling off a list of accomplishments, she says. One way to do that is by framing it in terms of a challenge and how you overcame that challenge. “If you put it in this dramatic arc, there’s a payoff and that’s what people want to listen to and that means they are much more likely to react,” says Kemp. 

3. Get noticed 

Before you even get to the table to ask for a pay rise, it is important to put your head above the parapet and make yourself visible to senior management. “A lot of people are conditioned into thinking just get on with your job and the rewards will come, but you do need to get noticed first,” says Sinclair. That is something that is even more important as organisations shift to remote working in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Maintaining social capital is also important, says Kemp. If people have taken time off for parental leave and they’ve not made any effort to keep in touch, then you might find somebody else has wedged in and started to take on your role, she says. “Social capital is more likely to impact job retention than how much money you are billing on behalf of the company,” Kemp says. 

4. Fix parental leave 

Those issues around parental leave also impact gender pay inequality. Even when companies offer the same parental leave packages to men and women, men are much less likely to take them, says Roberts. “One reason for that is by the time you get to the point in your life where you’re having children, you’re already paid less than your husband and so it makes economic and practical sense for the man to stay at work,” she says. Another reason men often don’t take their share of parental leave is because they have seen the impact it has on women when they take maternity leave and their careers stall. “We’ve got to change that narrative, you cannot expect men to suddenly say yes I’ll take six months off work to raise my children when they know that’s going to impact their career,” says Roberts. “So it’s not enough just to put the policy in place, it’s framing it in the right way and actually encouraging people to take it.” 

5. Beef up legislation 

While companies with more than 250 employees in the UK are legally required to report gender pay-gap data, the legislation needs more teeth, says Roberts. “In the first couple of years there were some companies that didn’t report and others that have reported late every year in an attempt to conceal their data,” but there is no punishment if they do eventually submit, Roberts says. To prevent companies from gaming the system, regulators need more powers to impose penalties on those that flout the rules. “How do you make a company take something seriously? You hit them where it hurts—make it cost money,” Roberts says. “So we need to be levying fines against companies who don’t report or who report false data, which many companies often do.” 

Click here to watch the webinar.

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