People Management: - Equalities watchdog pledges to investigate firms

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The UK’s equalities watchdog has released a list naming and shaming 47 organisations that failed to publish their latest gender pay gap figures.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the companies on the list – which include high street restaurant chain Pho, aeronautical manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace and the Roman Catholic Diocese Of Westminster, among others – missed the March and April deadlines for reporting and now face investigation.

The EHRC said it has notified all parties of its intention to commence formal investigations and assessments to determine whether they are breaking the law by not publishing their figures. If this is found to be the case, the organisations will be required to publish their figures immediately.

It added that organisations that do not cooperate could be issued with a formal notice, enforceable in court, and could face an unlimited fine.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, said there was “no excuse for missing the deadline and we will be making sure that all employers that haven’t published their figures are held to account.

“Transparency is a vital first step if we are to achieve gender equality in the workplace.”

Businesses with more than 250 employees have a legal requirement to publish their gender pay gap information and 10,738 reported their figures in time this year.

Public sector employers were required to hand in the information by midnight on 30 March and private and voluntary sector employers by midnight on 4 April. The 47 organisations listed missed this deadline.

Charles Cotton, senior performance and reward advisor at the CIPD, said: “Gender pay gap reporting helps employers understand how inclusive they are, and feeds into the increasing drive for transparency from investors, employees and customers alike.”

Earlier this month, the EHRC publicly chastised Typhoo Tea, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty and Northern Automotive Systems for repeatedly failing to provide pay gap information for the past two years.

The three organisations have since reported their figures.

Hilsenrath said employers face more than just an investigation. They are sending a message to their staff that “they don’t care about equality” and are exposing themselves to “serious reputational damage.”

“It’s the law,” added Hilsenrath. “We take it very seriously indeed.”

Cotton added that employers should take further steps by releasing narratives explaining how they plan to tackle their gender pay gap and add “context” to their legally obligated gender pay gap report.

“To get the maximum benefit from reporting, the CIPD wants employers to publish a narrative when they disclose, so their data can be seen in context,” he said.

“Employers should also create an action plan that explains the steps they’re taking to reduce their gap. This should include a review of all their people practices relating to recruitment and retention, management, training and development, reward and recognition, as well as the design of the organisation, work and jobs.”

The Diocese of Westminster issued a statement that blamed its failure to disclose pay gap figures on problems with its payroll system and said it was committed to completing and publishing the report as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for Pho said it would start work immediately on its figures for 2018 and would publish a statement on its website by the end of the week.

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