Closing the Gender Pay Gap
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Women managers in Wales are effectively working for free nearly an hour every day, a professional body claims.

The management gender pay gap stands at an average of £3,188 - or 13%.

Although this is less than the UK average of 22%, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) said it was still "unacceptable".

We asked Sian Goodson, managing director of Cardiff-based executive recruitment company Goodson Thomas, for her views.

She is involved in the appointments of senior managers across a range of industries and sectors.

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Q What's the biggest obstacle to the gender pay gap being closed?

We see a direct correlation between pay gap and the opportunities gap, which is magnified by the lack of measures taken by some organisations to succession plan - identify future senior managers.

In our experience, whilst the vast majority of organisations consider succession planning as an important piece of work to safeguard future organisational performance, there remains a lack of focus to produce such plans.

This consequently impacts adversely on organisations' ability to build talent pipelines - the pools of available talent to fill positions as companies develop.

'Cultural shift'

A proactive, robust approach here would enable organisations to build strong, diverse leadership teams for the future. Where organisations have pursued such planning, we have seen how this has positively encouraged and nurtured female talent, preparing them for the challenges of management and leadership.

Q Will companies having to report salaries be enough?

No. Reporting on salaries across the board could be problematic on multiple fronts. It would compromise confidential employee information, limit certain organisations' ability to attract and retain talent, and may create tension within organisations which would be counter-productive in their pursuit to establish high performing environments. What is required is a more prominent culture shift. The main issue is the need to meaningfully address the opportunities gap and this requires medium to long-term planning.

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Q In your experience, have things been improving - and at all levels?

I can only comment on the senior executive level. There have been some improvements in the way organisations pursue diversity in the boardroom; diversity of experience, mindsets, age and gender.

However, more needs to be done, and this is both the responsibility of the individual as well as the employer. Employers should continue to boost their existing efforts to embrace diversity and invest in female talent.

Likewise, female executives would benefit from more actively seeking potential support available to them and confidently position themselves for opportunities.

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Q Is there still a cultural problem?

Whilst progress has been made, there remains a challenge. It must begin with diverse talent identification at the earliest stages and the provision of support and platforms for such talent to interact with peers and senior personnel within their organisation and externally.

Organisations should not be afraid to provide a 'testing ground' for their talented individuals seeking to gain experience and exposure at the earlier stages of their career.

It is things like inviting them to networking events so they engage early on or give them opportunity to make presentations at board meetings.

Mentoring is also tremendously important but there has to be a sustained approach and investment, it's important that companies give the time, focus and energy to it.

The first six months to a year is critical and it's up to the individual as well as the company.

A version of this article was originally published in BBC News Wales

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