Businesses fear walkouts after gender pay gap revealed

More than eight in ten (84 per cent) senior professionals believe that the release of gender pay gap information will damage corporate reputations, a new report has shown.

Every UK organisation that employs more than 250 people must report its gender pay gap data and issue a public statement on a public facing website from April 2018. While the UK average differential currently stands at 18 per cent, it is believed that this could understate the position in many leading industries, such as banking. More than three quarters (77 per cent) of organisations anticipate that female staff will quit when their gender pay gap is revealed.

Indeed, four out of ten women surveyed said they would consider leaving if their organisation reports a problematic gender pay gap.

The survey of more than 1,000 senior professionals, which was conducted by Toluna on behalf of agency Golin, found that more than a third view this issue as potentially more toxic to corporate reputations than tax avoidance. 

Three quarters of those surveyed (73 per cent) believe that those revealed to be the worst offenders will find it harder to recruit female employees, while 76.5 per cent believe they should be 'named and shamed'. 

Bibi Hilton, managing director of Golin, recommends that organisations should not wait until the last minute to gather the relevant information, but should establish their pay gap as soon as possible and ensure they know how it has arisen. 'Armed with that information, they can plan to put it right and communicate what they are doing to the public, employees and the media,' she said. 'Even if they are starting from a bad place, at least they will have something positive to talk about and will be able to show progress.'

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said that a pay gap also 'represents lost productivity, where the skills and potential of women in work are underused.'