The Government Equalities Office has published some simplified guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/womens-progression-in-the-workplace-actions-for-employers ) on actions that can help support women’s progress in the workplace. The guidance reminds employers of the value of closing the gender pay gap, making the best use of skills and experience, attracting and retaining talent and improving productivity and performance. The “action note” drills down on the steps employers could be taking to achieve change. The “infographic” (a one page image based flyer) drills down yet further into a pictorial format with an easy to digest sentence recommending action. The guidance focusses on key areas including creating an inclusive culture, supporting career development, progressing part time workers, improving recruitment and promotion processes and measuring and evaluating policies to support diversity and inclusion. The practical recommendations include highlighting senior leaders (including men, parents and carers) who work part time to dispel myths about the ambition and abilities of part time workers and measuring and evaluating the take up effectiveness of flexible working and talent development programmes. While the Government guidance about basing salary on skills and experience of the individual rather than previous salary may be fairly uncontroversial, employers may be less keen with the recommendation that, where possible, they should say that salary is negotiable. Including a salary range on job adverts, intended to tackle a female reluctance to negotiate salary, is unlikely to result in employers including a range which goes beyond the original salary figure envisaged. If the observation that women are less willing to negotiate their pay is correct, including a salary range with a low bottom end salary figure could in fact result in women receiving less than they would have done before employers moved to this approach.

The guidance is in line with the Government’s continuing commitment to encouraging employers to not only report on their gender pay gap, but also to take action to close the gap identified. It is unlikely to be the last time that we hear about the steps that the Government envisage will achieve a better balanced workforce. Yesterday the BBC reported that with just one week until the deadline nearly two thirds of companies still had not disclosed the average difference between what they pay male and female workers. Based on the figures to that date three out of four UK companies had a pay gap (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-47672106).