Aniela Unguresan, Founder, EDGE Certified Foundation, participated on a panel titled How to Tackle The Gender Pay Gap at the Financial Times’ Women in Business Summit Europe in London on Tuesday 13 June. Joining her in discussing this pressing challenge were Baroness Helena Morrissey DBE, Alesha De-Freitas and Dr Katharine D’Amico. Daniel Thomas, Global Media Editor of the Financial Times, moderated the panel.
The discussion was wide-ranging, covering issues including the difficulties women face in negotiating for better pay, the neuroscientific roots of bias and the role of compulsory reporting in laying the groundwork for change. Rather than treating the gender pay gap as an unexplainable phenomenon, they traced it back to neuroscience, linguistic styles, inherent biases present at all stages of decision making, a system that penalises motherhood but rewards fatherhood, one where women start on lower salaries and progress slower than their male colleagues, and the human condition that makes us reluctant to change. But change is possible, and it is imperative. It requires conscious effort – and it requires commitment from business leaders.
“We expect change to be incremental,” Aniela Unguresan explained. “We hope that by talking about it, making commitments to it, reporting on it, year after year things will get better naturally. Well, change is actually disruptive. And we hate disruption as human beings.”
Yet is also important to acknowledge the heartfelt, emotional nature of pay equity as a topic: “It’s probably one of the most emotional topics that I have witnessed in the corporate world. Pay is the absolute outcome indicator. It’s the absolute measurable indicator of what is going on.”
Despite this, Aniela also stressed the importance of a careful, deliberate methodology. “While it’s an emotional topic, we need to bring rigour and discipline to the conversation.” It’s about finding a balance between the emotion inherent to questions of social justice and rigorous, data-backed analysis: “Once we have the lay of land, bring the emotions in.”
Speaking on the recent EU pay transparency directive, the founder of EDGE Certified Foundation explained the role compulsory gender pay gap reporting plays in fostering transparency – pay transparency is a powerful public policy instrument. The benefits of pay transparency extend beyond judgements made by regulators, board members and shareholders, but also encompass everyday interactions at every level within the organization. “Compulsory reporting creates transparency. Without that transparency, those conversations [about pay] cannot happen very often. Especially for women, and for people who don’t have the same networks inside the organization to get this information in an informal way.”
However, pay transparency should not be seen as a cure-all solution: “Transparency makes the problem visible. But it doesn’t solve the problem,” Aniela said. “The fact that an organization is transparent internally and externally will not close the gap in and of itself.”
There needs to be a plan, with clear remediation for different issues, and a remediation budget set aside to close the gap. But first you need to understand the situation within your own organization.
The EDGE Empower software solution grants organizations the ability to analyse their unexplained gender pay gaps. Remember: unexplained does not mean unexplainable. Through sophisticated tools – including EDGE’s Pay Tool, which delivers authoritative gender pay gap analysis – leaders can uncover hidden biases and discrimination that may be at play. And through EDGE Certification, they can visibly and credibly demonstrate their commitment to DE&I.
As organizations resolve pay inequities, they will create a more sustainable business, one where the benefits of equity make a tangible difference to the balance sheet.
Learn more about our complete and integrated software-based DE&I solution by booking a demo.
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Wherever you are in your DE&I journey, whether at the very beginning or further along, EDGE Empower helps accelerate your progress, and through EDGE Certification visibly prove it – applying the same discipline and rigour that you would to other business-critical missions. Learn more by booking a demo, today.