As of 6th April, under The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, UK companies with 250 or more staff will be legally required to calculate and publish the difference in pay between male and female employees.

The new legislation is being heralded as a watershed moment for gender equality and an important step forward in the campaign to put promote gender diversity in the workplace.

Public, private and voluntary sector firms will all be required to take part in the rulings. The data will eventually be available on a government database and the deadline for companies to reveal their figures is April 2018.

Commenting, Crowley Woodford, employment partner at law firm Ashurst, said:

“The expectation is for fireworks when employers publish the differences between what they pay men and women. However, many employers are hoping that this will go the way of Norway, where after some initial surprise, it soon became old news.”

However, a new survey by Chartered Management Institute (CMI) of 851 UK managers reveals that employers must urgently address organisational culture as part of their efforts to close the gender pay gap. Chief among this is addressing ‘casual’ acts of gender discrimination: CMI’s survey reveals that four in five (81 per cent) managers have witnessed gender discrimination or bias in their workplace in the last year alone.

Despite 86% of managers being in favour of a more gender balanced workplace, CMI’s research suggests this is not translating into meaningful action to prevent or challenge negative behaviours. Just 42 per cent of managers who said they witnessed bias in pay or remuneration decisions in the past 12 months said they had taken direct action to challenge the behaviour.

According to CMI Women, the UK economy will need two million new managers by 2024 – and 1.5 million of these will need to be women if we are to achieve gender balance. The economic argument for bridging the gender gap is clear: McKinsey calculates that it would add as much as £150bn to the economy by 2025 if eradicated completely.[1]

Ann Francke, CMI’s chief executive, said:

The gender pay reporting regulations are a great way to encourage employers to figure out how they can equalise what they pay their men and women. Creating transparency and setting targets are just the start; businesses must take a hard look at the reality of the many causes, like casual gender discrimination.

We may live in more enlightened times but clearly we still have some way to go. Men and women have an equal role in creating a company culture that benefits all, so managers must call out any bad behaviour whenever they witness it.

Today’s regulation is a real opportunity to create a more inclusive, more diverse, and more productive workforce – all of which is vital if Britain is to thrive post-Brexit.”