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SMEs and the Gender Pay Gap – What you Need to Know


SMEs and the Gender Pay Gap – What you Need to Know

The gender pay gap remains one of the most contentious issues in the contemporary workplace, and one that continues to have an impact throughout the western world.

Despite the pay gap having reached a record low in the UK at the end of 2017, for example, the average British women still earns 9.1% less than their male counterparts. In Australia, a recent study commissioned by the Greater Australia Bank suggests that the gender pay gap has actually increased during the last 15 years, from 14.9% in 2004 to 15.3% in 2017.

Sure, this is offset by the projection that the iGeneration will ultimately produce more female breadwinners than male for the first time, but this should disguise the current lack of equality that exists across the globe.

While all UK business with 250 or more employees are now compelled to report their gender pay gap publicly, this does not mean that smaller firms should ignore the issue. After all, they risk missing out on the top female talent if they don’t create and transparent pay structures, and this could cause SMEs to lose ground to their rivals in the future.

So, here are some of the ways in which small and medium-sized firms can narrow the gap and create a more inclusive workforce: 

Subsidise Childcare 

Depending on your existing financial and human resources, you may not feel that subsidising childcare is a realistic option as a small business owner.

Creative thinking can help you to overcome this barrier, however, particularly if you’re able to restructure your employment benefits and include childcare subsidies at the expense of other, more generic features.

This would have numerous benefits, particularly when you consider that the average cost of part-time childcare in the UK is estimated at £6,000 per annum. While this cost is partially funded by the government in instances were children are aged three or older, this is scarcely enough to tackle the issue.

With women still the primary care-givers for children across the western world, offering childcare subsidies would make it easier for mothers to return to work and pursue their careers (even those with relatively low incomes).

This will also increase the productivity in female employees, helping them to optimise their performance in the workplace and bridge the gender pay gap organically over time.

Be Transparent About Pay 

This is arguably the most important step to take as a small business, as being transparent about pay compels you to create consistent grades and salaries based on the job role and the quality of the candidate rather than the gender of the applicant in question.

In the first instance, you should research current market rates and ensure that your salaries are competitive, before advertising these clearly and openly as part of the job description.

This will ensure that you attract the right calibre of candidates across both genders, while also creating a scenario where all candidates are remunerated fairly and transparently at all times.

This type of transparent approach also creates a more harmonious and collaborative environment within the business, and one in which both men and women are empowered to pursue their career from a level playing field.

Make Remote Working Accessible to All 

In days gone by, remote working was considered to be a huge privilege and one that employees could only apply for in specific circumstances.

It’s now a cornerstone of the modern workplace, however, and one that is available to anyone who has worked for 26 consecutive weeks in their job role. This means that mothers can easily apply to work from home and create a superior work-life balance, without being forced to compromise on their career ambitions.

While there may be a common misconception that mothers working from home are less ambitious than their colleagues, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, these individuals are often fiercely motivated to achieve their career goals, and simply need an opportunity to do this.

So, by empowering remote working throughout your venture, you’re allowing individuals to operate from a level playing field regardless of their gender or personal circumstances. Once again, this could help to reduce the gender pay gap organically, while also creating the type of forward-thinking workforce that will thrive in the future.


I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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