Today is the last day for certain private sector companies to publish their year two gender pay gap (GPG) reports. This year the media has focussed on whether the pay gap has changed since the first year of publication, with significant numbers of employers reporting an increase in their pay gap. At the time of writing, according to paygaps.com there has been an overall increase of 0.2% with the average median gender pay gap for those obliged to report amounting to 12%. As many employers are now discovering, progress will take time and it’s important to be realistic about timescales for change. That can be a difficult message to deliver, and so the focus needs to be on what steps organisations have taken, and will take in the future, rather than becoming fixated on figures.

There may be some areas where a company can achieve quick wins, but for the most part this is a long term investment. Acknowledging this, the Scottish Government’s Gender Pay Gap Action Plan explains that the gender pay gap will not be solved by short term fixes; their goal is to close the gender pay gap in Scotland in a generation.

Employers who have still to publish their 2018 GPG report, or are planning ahead for next year should start with the data and carry out different types of analysis to understand the sources of their pay gap. That way employers can target where they need to make changes and set goals around achieving this. For many companies the gap arises because the top salary quartile is dominated by men with a low percentage of senior females, but this is not always the case. Organisations should set their goals, tell their own story and share their areas of success rather than simply reporting a figure. Context is everything.