A significant minority of organisations currently conduct any gender pay analysis, and limited action is being taken by employers to address the causes of gender inequality, research finds.
Just 28 per cent of employers overall and 34 per cent at larger organisations say their company conducts any analysis of the pay of men and women, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Dianah Worman, diversity adviser for CIPD, says that the survey findings demonstrate the need for employers to act expeditiously to be able to deliver what will be expected of them, or risk damaging their public reputations as progressive employers of female talent and undermine their competiveness in attracting and retaining it.
Overall, the CIPD believes the government proposals on the regulations, which are based on extensive consultations, are 'on the right track'.
'We welcome the additional focus on publishing information on the bonus gap and quartile salary bands which will give more detailed insights to employers on where and how pronounced gender pay differentials exist and what needs to be done to address them,' says Worman.
'However, we're not convinced that the proposals to publish pay gap league tables across economic sectors will be helpful in levering systemic change.'
The survey also shows that action taken by employers to promote equal opportunities for men and women within the last two years, or planned over the next 12 months, is limited and on an ad-hoc basis.
The most commonly cited ways in which organisations have tried to improve equal opportunities in the last two years are: improving the range of flexible working opportunities available to staff (26 per cent all employers; 34 per cent large employers) and developing more inclusive recruitment practices (16 per cent all employers; 21 per cent large employers).
But just 5 per cent of employers (8 per cent of large employers) say their organisation has developed closer links with schools or colleges as a means of improving the gender balance in certain occupations or sectors.
Looking ahead, well under half (44 per cent) of employers say they have no specific plans in the next 12 months to improve opportunities for women with two thirds of smaller employers and a third of larger employers saying this is the case.
Among those employers that are planning action to improve the gender balance, the most popular remedy is to improve flexible working opportunities (13 per cent of large employers), the development of more inclusive recruitment practices (11 per cent of large employers) and the introduction of mentoring to help women progress into more senior roles (13 per cent of large employers).
Worman says that employers need to focus on reviewing people management and development policies and working practices to ensure they are inclusive and bias–free.
'Government has a key role to play in encouraging education providers and employers to help and inform young people and their parents about the diversity of career options available to them, changing misinformed perceptions and improving knowledge.
'The availability of good careers advice is imperative to help shape and inform the skills the UK needs to be economically competitive.'
Further reading on gender balance
See also: Gender pay gap narrows