Are you prepared to communicate your gender pay gap?

Are you prepared to communicate your gender pay gap?

As the deadline for reporting gender pay gap figures approaches, organisations are considering their communications approach and the potential fallout or opportunity their stories may hold.

The role for effective strategic communications will be critical for organisations with over 250 employees legally required to publish their figures by 4th April 2018. The need for a business plan to deal with pay gaps is self-evident. In building these plans though, it is critical for senior leaders to consider the communications implications at the beginning of the process. And so the question remains – what is the role of communications in ensuring businesses take the right approach to addressing their gender pay gap?

In the UK, the average gender pay gap is just over 18%, meaning the average man earns 18% more than the average woman. However, research shows that organisations experience greater success when the workforce comprises a balance of genders. Therefore organisations that can show they are proactive in reducing their pay gap also demonstrate their knowledge that gender parity has a positive influence on business success.


In 2017 EasyJet published one of the biggest gender pay gaps released so far, at 51.7%. Headlines were damning, yet having voluntarily reported their pay gap since 2015 EasyJet was well prepared with a communications strategy that centred on two key points – explaining the gender imbalance affecting the entire aviation industry and showcasing the action EasyJet has taken to overcome this.

EasyJet clearly and concisely communicated the fact that around 4% of commercial pilots worldwide are female. This combined with the fact that cabin crew, who are paid less than pilots, are majority female attributed to the pay disparity. Yet EasyJet also communicated proactive action taken via their Amy Johnson Flying Initiative, which aims to get more women to join the pilot profession. As EasyJet Communications Director, Paul Moore advises, “show yourself to be genuine, open and proactive with information.”

The pharmaceutical industry, which is no stranger to media scrutiny, can turn a potential communications disaster into a business imperative. But it needs to learn from organisations such as EasyJet that are managing the issue proactively. There is a clear business benefit in achieving gender balance in the workforce, but this won’t happen without a clear business and communications plan. Addressing the inevitable scrutiny effectively requires organisations to be on the front-foot with transparent and consistent messaging.

Success when navigating the complexities of the gender pay gap, centres on making bold business decisions in tandem with effective communications, both internally and externally. Organisations should engage their communications teams from the outset to advise on the reputational implication of every potential course of action. They must collaboratively build a long term communications strategy with a strong narrative. Organisations that tackle this problem head-on, led by communication insight, will achieve greater success in the long term.

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