Work and Wellbeing · 21 January 2020

How your business can help close the gender pay gap

Pay gap

Closing the gender pay gap makes perfect business sense. As the competition for talent intensifies purpose, ethics and social responsibility are vital to attracting today’s younger talent, fueling business performance. 

According to the Government Equalities Office, 88% of British companies reported a gender pay gap that favoured men.

Surprisingly, some studies have shown that personality has a large impact on your payroll. “Being nice gets you nowhere” is an occasionally sad but true saying in the business world. Unfourtuently in the workplace women are more likely to exhibit agreeable behaviours and if they do “disagree” there classed as bossy.

Many clinical psychologists provide assertiveness training to women to help their careers. But this is not the answer.

Leaders need to step up

The responsibility lies not with individual women, but with leaders. Not only does this is display good practise but it will also change your business for the better.

The gender pay gap hurts women the most, but it also impacts everyone. It’s a collective problem that must be solved collectively. The gap harms companies by impacting the bottom-line performance of teams and individuals- especially in cognitive, creative and collaborative fields of work.

Doing the right thing will fuel your business’s performance. In order to improve the efficacy of your company, teams, and individual employees, you need to unlock employee potential, creativity and motivation. When it comes to teams, collective intelligence is a significant factor. And when it comes to individuals, personal motivation counts.

How to help:

1) Be transparent about pay


Ensure that salary bands, role definitions and expectations of each role at each level, are clearly publicised. You want to give employees the opportunity to interrogate and challenge where they sit in the salary bands within the context of what is expected of them and the value they bring. 

If someone who is currently paid fairly insists on a pay rise, review their request and be prepared to reject it. Currently, being less ‘agreeable’, men are more likely to ask for a pay rise than women, so by responding to direct requests, you are in danger of being discriminatory. Rather than being stingy, this should encourage you to make sure everyone is paid fairly.

It’s also important to continuously audit the processes through which pay rises are requested and rewarded. As part of this, you need to ensure that a pay rise can’t be issued by just one person. 

2) Break down gender stereotypes around childcare

Women’s careers are often halted when they become mothers. This can impact their whole career. To counter this, parental leave should be genderless. Give employees the option to share time off between two primary caregivers after the birth of their baby or adoption of a child.

A shift in mindset is needed.‘Time off’ on maternity or paternity leave should be seen as a key part of an individual’s development. Put policies in place for both men and women away on parental leave to be included in any pay reviews. After all, they’ll have picked up and developed a whole host of new, valuable skills during this period.

3) Make sure your leadership is balanced

To close your gender pay gap, you need a balanced leadership team. Evidence shows that having an evenly balanced gender split at the leadership level will help ensure your gender pay gap is tackled effectively.

In 2018, there were more Chief Executives called Dave in charge of FTSE 100 companies than there were women. If either gender is overrepresented in leadership, the average outcome is of course that it favours that gender with better pay.

Ultimately, the gender pay gap exists because historically business has been dominated by a patriarchal leadership which has rewarded men more than women. It’s time for a change. A change that will benefit people of all genders and their businesses.

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Cain Ullah is CEO and co-founder of Red Badger, and Chair of the Society of Digital Agencies, an independent digital consultancy focusing on the digital transformation of large companies through innovation and delivery expertise. Cain has led the company to boast a client list of major retailers, financial services and media giants including Tesco, HSBC, Sky and Fortnum & Mason.

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