Is it good PR or a foolhardy shot in the foot for a large company to publish its gender pay gap before the government makes it mandatory? Deloitte clearly thinks the former – it’s admitted it pays female employees 17.8% less than their male counterparts.
But the accountancy giant pointed out that when job grade is taken into account that gap narrows to 1.5%. ‘This illustrates that for Deloitte, the issue is far less about how we pay our people and more about the number of women employed at senior grades,’ said Deloitte UK’s senior partner and chief executive David Sproul.
It says it’s trying to tackle that too, with a target of 25% female partners by 2020. In its most recent round of partner promotions in June, 22 out of the 75 new appointments were women. That’s a similar proportion to rivals EY and PwC (KPMG’s promotions take place in September). It’s also an improvement on the 13 female partners out of 65 in 2014.
Given PwC published its gender pay gap (15.1%, or 2.5% when grades are accounted for) last November, it makes sense for the rest of the ‘Big Four’ to follow suit rather than risk looking behind the all-important diversity curve. After all, companies with more than 250 employees will have to publish their gender pay gaps eventually, once the government’s finished a consultation.
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The Office for National Statistics put the full-time gender pay gap at 9.4% last year. That widens to 19.1% when the army of part-time women is taken into account. But Deloitte and PwC haven’t published data on full vs part-time, though, so one can’t say if they are really better or worse than the average UK employer.
There will, no doubt, be more debate about whether pay really is the best way to analyse and fix gender equality. At a company as big as Deloitte, which employs more than 14,000 people in the UK, the gap can be used as a proxy for the proportion of women in senior positions, and so one metric by which to measure and address that disparity.
But smaller companies job grades may not be so easily defined and compared. In our opinion, more transparency is generally a good thing. We’ll have to wait for the government’s new requirements to take effect, though, before we can really see the scope and impact of reporting the gender pay gap.