Helping to change the paradigm of the pay gap, manager by manager

High Value Woman

by Sabiha Vorajee
CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer),
High Value Woman

As the focus on gender and the pay gap continues to grow, with specific initiatives such the WGEA’s campaign to make regular pay gap analysis and action plans standard business practice, one thing strikes me as very clear.

Having worked in reward and remuneration for almost twenty years internationally with all levels within the organisation to educate and empower both management and employees around pay decisions and outcomes, it is the raising awareness, creating discussion points and then embedding practical strategies and tactics to address the pay gap issues at every step of the way, which I believe really has the power to make a difference.

Throughout my career, I have worked with many, many ‘line’ managers and to me, they are the ultimate leaders within businesses. The executive and senior teams can decide on the strategies they want implemented to create the outcomes the business needs in order to thrive, but it is the line managers who are the crucial link in the picture. They are the ones on a day to day basis managing the people within the organisation, and they are the lynchpin and the touchpoints HR & Reward need to be working with, to ensure the challenges we are facing in this space are being addressed when and where they occur.

Line managers can be guided by our people strategies and policies, but in the end, they make the call and continue to perpetuate whatever the culture may be around the implementation of HR policy, based on what and how they are being measured for performance. If the quality of people decisions is not a measure of performance for a manager in the same way as a financial or commercial outcome, how are we to ensure we instil and create the changes we need to move forward?

Early in my career, I heard the saying, ‘What gets measured gets done.’ The organisation in which I heard this ensured that within its management KPI scorecard, people activity was given a sufficient weighting to make a difference (especially from a bonus perspective), and rather than simply allocate an engagement score as a measure of the relationship between the manager and team members, managers were assessed on specific people activity . Team members were also surveyed to ensure consistency of outcome and although this process wasn’t foolproof, it made sure managers took ownership of the process and were held accountable for all their people actions and decisions.

In order to create the change we need to bridge the pay gap (& other gender inequity issues), I am a firm believer that we need to review, question and sometimes challenge the decisions and outcomes proposed by managers. My experience has shown me that often when a disparate outcome is made, the manager hasn’t even been aware of it, yet once it has been brought to their attention and they are advised that this is one basis of their performance, it isn’t surprising that we start to see less and less of these kinds of decisions and behaviours.

As HR & reward professionals we are surrounded by data and with the impetus of the WGEA reporting, whether it’s required/done in your organisation or not, we can be the at the helm of deeply analysing the data, providing the information to all levels of management, having robust discussions about what it really means and then coming up with ways of helping managers make and implement the changes they need to, to make better decisions.

The touchpoints of reward and remuneration across a team member’s cycle are numerous and by analysing data and sharing this information in a timely manner with line managers and holding them accountable for their decisions, I believe we can change the tide of the current pay gap. Making gender equity and pay parity a measureable KPI as part of a broader people KPI not only highlights where any unconscious bias may be occurring and thereby addresses it, it can also provide the basis for understanding where gaps in education about gender equality are and how we can address these from a broader organisation perspective.

Increasingly organisations are providing their line managers with information on gender equity during the annual remuneration and incentive review process. Seeing clear graphs outlining current remuneration levels by gender, performance ratings and gender ensures that line managers can clearly identify any issues and ensures that employees are paid fairly and equally.

Gender equity and pay parity is a topic for everyone in an organisation to be understanding and talking about, not just women and CEO’s, and we can make it a priority by helping everyone understand its implications, especially managers in the front line. Strategy execution in the area of gender, similar to other strategic imperatives which have a strong commercial value, have to be cascaded and embedded across and down the whole organisation for them to be meaningful, and until we make it a ‘must’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ we will continue to talk about the pay gap rather than make a dent in it.

If you would like to hear more on gender pay equity, join me at the next R.Network event being held in Melbourne on Nov 18th. More details on the event are available on R.News.