By Geraldine Gallacher, Managing Director, Executive Coaching Consultancy
I am optimistic that what is revealed by the figures in the gender pay gap declarations will spur all employers – not just those already committed to action – to take time to understand what’s causing the gap in their organisation and find the most effective way of closing it.
Already over the past few weeks, analysis of the pay gap data has confirmed what we have known for years: that underrepresentation of women in leadership roles is a major contributory factor to the gender pay gap. Getting more women into senior positions has started to become an urgent priority for those employers who understand they will not be able to show they are closing the pay gap next year and in future years unless they actively work towards gender balanced leadership. There’s no quick fix to this problem.
The barriers to women in leadership are multifaceted and complex. Employers will need to unpick both why male leaders are more likely to promote a man over a women, and why many women choose to opt out of leadership contention.
Our own research shows young women are making long-term decisions about their future career within the first five years of a job. This means an employer needs to get the right support to young women early in their careers, helping them to actively plan their path to the top, find advocates to back them all the way, and to develop a leadership style they personally feel comfortable with, even though it may differ to that exhibited by male colleagues.
Although the UK is one of the few countries in the world to mandate pay gap reporting, I am optimistic that global employers will apply lessons learned across all their territories. Only last week we celebrated the 100th international delivery of our female leadership development programme with a client in New York.
Young women are developing a sense of what is equitable in the workplace way before they enter it and are already influencing what men do to actively support parity as evidenced in this moving video of secondary school girls interviewing their fathers.
But even before this stage girls absorb from those around them their right (or not) to lead. The job of getting more women into leadership positions should be a core goal of early years development.
As Helena Morrissey suggests in her new book, achieving this is not simply a question of women leaning in but changing the system. Perhaps Gender Pay Gap Reporting will help do just that.
Geraldine Gallacher, Managing Director, Executive Coaching Consultancy .