Gender Pay Gap Campaign Last Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Reinstate Gender
Pay Gap
Reporting Now.

WACL’s purpose is to accelerate gender equality. We have launched a campaign calling on the UK government to reinstate Gender Pay Gap reporting now.

“Following the recent success of our campaign to reinstate Gender Pay Gap reporting and the news that the EHRC are looking to instate Ethnicity and Disability Pay Gap reporting by the end of the year too, we took the next step immediately, uploading a toolkit to help every business interpret and use the data they report to the best effect and we hosted an online WACL debate on International Women’s Day to share the hands-on experience of our WACL leaders and allies.

"Closing the gender paygap"
- a WACL toolkit

Watch the recording of the WACL debate here:

Measuring The Pay Gap
And Why WACL Are Still Making
Waves About Reporting'

A WACL webinar on International Women’s Day 2021

There was plenty of inspiring, practical and actionable advice on pay gap reporting in the UK from the stellar panel taking part in WACL’s public debate on the whys and hows of measuring the pay gap on Monday March 8, to mark International Women’s Day.

The aim was to unpack reasons to embrace pay gap reporting, how not to fear it, and the benefits of both. 

Sharing their experiences and insights were Andrew Geoghegan, Global Consumer Planning Director at Diageo; Dr Heather Melville, OBE CCMI, Director and Head of Client Experience at PwC; Cilla Snowball, Portfolio Non-Exec Director; and Gillian Unsworth of the Equality Hub at the Cabinet Office. 

The discussion, chaired by Ann Franke OBE, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute, took place two weeks after WACL joined forces with the CMI and Fawcett Society to successfully campaign for government to reintroduce mandatory gender pay gap reporting this year after it was put on hold due to COVID-19 in 2020.

“Pay gap reporting is not a silver bullet and if you report, you’re only at the start of your journey. But that journey is such an important one,” said WACL President Jackie Stevenson, introducing the session. 

“Reporting helps you understand where your challenges lie. And the subsequent action plan you put in place will result in a more diverse business, which we know is a more balanced and a happier business and, ultimately, a more profitable one.”

The session kicked off with a discussion of the most important benefits of pay gap reporting.


Why do it?


Unsworth highlighted the visibility it creates – raising the issue generally, and shining a spotlight on causes within an organisation, specifically.

 “When it began, the interest from around the world was utterly overwhelming. It started a conversation. It introduced the phrase to people’s vocabulary, which has really driven accountability within employers and driven them to act,” she said.

 “Giving organisations a baseline helps – it gives something to build on and improve, and it also creates competition between organisations,” Unsworth continued. 


“The executive named on the report gives a very personal feeling of responsibility. Another positive is people working in HR and D&I for years finally got into the board room and wider D&I issues also got more profile as part of the GPG conversation, too.” 


Snowball pointed to the business advantages.

 “The benefit of gender pay gap reporting is growth. The diversity dividend is key to unlocking economic growth – McKinsey has quantified it at around a 21% profit uplift in companies with diverse leadership,” she observed.


Melville underlined the cultural impact.

 “When you work for an organisation that is proudly sharing what its pay gap is you start feeling it will do something about it – that it has a culture you want to work for,” she explained, stressing how the talent war should drive more organisations to do this.

 The new generation especially are pushing for greater transparency, Melville added, and for them especially, the pay gaps and inequality has a big impact on trust: “If you have a gender pay gap, how transparent are you? Can you be trusted? There is a reputational benefit and also a risk.”


How to measure it


Attention turned to measurement – the most common being the number of women at the top of an organisation and among its top 25% of earners, as the gender pay gap is typically worse where there aren’t enough women in top roles, Snowball said.

 Another measurement “that dovetails with this beautifully” is the proportion of men and women working flexibly within an organisation, she added.

 “In particular, we need to see whether men and women are paid the same for similar jobs or work of equal value,” said Geoghegan. “And you have to think about the ratios you want at different levels and in functions.” 


Diageo is targeting 50% women and 45% ethnic diversity in leadership role, for example. 

 He then went on to demonstrate the importance of having the right measures by revealing that Diageo GB’s median pay gap, which has narrowed since 2017 from 8.6 to 2.8%, has recently widened – in favour of women. 

 “Does that mean we can stop thinking about this issue as on average women are being paid more?” Geoghegan asked. “Of course the answer is no, because when we dig deeper we can see the make-up of the different roles we have is really different.”

 In response, the company is actively challenging stereotypical assumptions certain roles are better suited to men – more physically demanding roles, for example, or STEM jobs.  

 “Gender equal pay is just one measure of an inclusive workplace,” Geoghegan pointed out. “And we, like all businesses, have to dedicate ourselves to creating the culture in which everybody is welcomed and can thrive.


Best practice in action


The discussion then turned to lessons learned from those doing gender pay reporting well.

 “The most important thing is knowing your workforce and using gender pay gap reporting as a starting point. Then, work out where the problems are and really drill down,” said Unsworth. “Look at what the data tells you and create a package of measures relevant to your workforce.”

 She cited Barclay’s success in encouraging people to stop thinking of flexible work as ‘a female thing’ by advocating it as a self-development benefit for all by re-packaging it as ‘Dynamic Working’.

 “Make it practical, make it easy to implement, and think about the conversations and cultural change you will create as the result of taking some of these steps. And be inclusive – change women’s lives to change all employees’ lives at the same time,” Geoghegan advised.

 “And don’t be scared men will feel alienated by this subject … it’s shaping a more progressive future for all of us.”

 He added: “Men don’t want to have to play to gender expectations either … this tyranny – though it’s worse for women, for sure – is holding men in expected work patterns they’d really not want to do if it weren’t expected of them.”


For Melville, clarity and transparency were key.

 “Be clear around the recruitment process – say, this is what the salary is, this is what the job is,” she advised. “Have measurements and share data – bring data to the conversation and it’s always more productive.”

 She added: “You need great clarity, and you need inclusive leadership. You need to lead from the top and ask difficult questions.”


Meanwhile, Snowball highlighted the importance of setting clear targets and apportioning direct responsibility. 

 “If senior leaders have D&I in their KPIs, it works. If there is a diversity manager (rather than just relying on diversity networks), it works,” she said, stressing the importance of celebrating men who are driving equality. 

 “If people understand gender pay gap reporting, it works,” she added. “There is a lot of confusion still, the two are not interchangeable. You can have equal pay and still have a gender pay gap.”


Progress made so far on gender pay gap reporting is revealed by a recent survey by the CMI 1,000 managers and self-employed workers was undoubtedly good news, Franke stated. 

 Some 85% of respondents support gender pay gap reporting and 80% also support ethnicity pay gap reporting. Further, over two thirds support the action plans that are part of gender pay gap reporting being a mandatory requirement and the same proportion also favoured extending pay gap reporting to SME-sized companies with 250 employees or less.

 “Over half (of respondents) understand if they close their gender pay gap not only would they be doing the right thing, they would end up in a productive more successful business,”

she added.

 “So that business case message is getting through, and that is cause for optimism.”

 A solid start, then. But as Monday’s discussion underlined, when it comes to ensuring a truly equal and inclusive, equitable and fair workplace for all there is much that still needs to be done.



23rd February: We did it! WACL’s campaign for the reinstatement of gender pay gap reporting was among the powerful voices that have impacted government policy, resulting in a new deadline for gender pay gap reporting this year.

Companies that do not make the original April deadline will have until October 4th to report their gender pay gaps. The reporting requirement was suspended entirely last year due to the pandemic.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also committed to introducing ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting as soon as possible.

Jackie Stevenson, President of WACL and founding partner & CEO, The Brooklyn Brothers, said: “We’re delighted by the EHRC news that mandatory GPG reporting will be reinstated and we look forward to no further delay and the good news that ethnicity & disability pay gap reports will be coming next. Diversity is good for business and must be more front of mind as the economy opens up and we build back better.”

A joint statement written with sister organisations the CMI and the Fawcett Society, coupled with WACL’s petition that has already gained over to 3,500 signatures, all kept up the pressure for change, demanding that businesses be held accountable for both reporting their numbers and disclosing their strategies around closing the gender pay gap.

On 8th March, International Women’s Day, WACL will be holding an event with a panel of experts who will give a clear picture of the benefits of Gender Pay Gap reporting for business, society, and women, as well as the very best advice on how to improve the structure in your business.

In light of the disproportionate impact lockdown and the UK’s pandemic policy response has had on working women, particularly Black, Asian, minority Ethnic and Disabled women, it has never been more important to challenge and support businesses in reporting their GPG and to encourage everyone to have a robust strategy for addressing the Gender Pay Gap.

WACL campaign update: Mandatory gender pay gap reporting to be reinstated, with EHRC enforcement from October 2021

The UK government’s decision to put mandatory Gender Pay Gap reporting under review for a second year poses a significant threat to that purpose, and to the progress for all women that so many have fought for over decades.

For this reason, the senior women leaders who make up WACL’s membership are not waiting until International Women’s Day to #ChooseToChallenge: we have launched a campaign calling for the UK government to reinstate Gender Pay Gap reporting now for all UK private & voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees.

As business leaders ourselves, we understand organisations are under particular pressure during Covid-19. However the fact remains, if the UK government does not hold organisations with 250+ employees accountable for their GPG reporting for another year it will do very little to alleviate that pressure, whilst it most certainly will hurt the prospects of all working women and undo so much of the progress made towards gender equality.

In fact, the evidence tells us that having a strategy in place to improve a company's GPG, galvanised by mandatory GPG reporting, can improve overall company performance, and help deliver against vital talent and diversity & inclusion strategies. We need to increase reporting to include ethnicity & disability, not remove the one set of reports we have.

We know the stats, and we’ll continue to share them publicly through our webinars & toolkits. But now we must act.

That’s why WACL has launched a petition calling on the UK government to reinstate mandatory Gender Pay Gap reporting in 2021 for all UK private & voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees.


Sign The Petition

Alongside the WACL petition, our campaign includes a social media & outdoor advertising campaign, video call backgrounds to download and use here and here, alongside a joint statement signed by WACL President, Jackie Stevenson, which sees WACL join forces with our partners Fawcett Society, Chartered Management Institute and others calling on the UK government to reinstate Gender Pay Gap reporting.

Why is WACL campaigning to reinstate Gender Pay Gap reporting?

Decades of work to close the gender pay gap is at stake if this flagship report is shelved. No measurement means no management, and vitally needed focus will reduce essential workplace initiatives needed to close both pay & role gaps, further entrenching existing gender inequality in our economy.


Equality is both good for business and good for society.


As our joint statement notes:

"Research by McKinsey demonstrates that tackling gender inequality in the workforce overall is a vital issue for productivity – they estimate a £150bn benefit to UK GDP if the performance of every region on gender equality in the workplace was raised to that of the best.1

The gender pay gap is partly driven by a lack of women at the top and research from across the private sector routinely demonstrates that more diverse teams, including teams with a more even share of women, perform more effectively than teams which are homogenous: from research and design teams in Spain, which are more innovative with women members2 to senior management boards across the UK and North and South America, that are more likely to grow if they are gender diverse.3“

GPG reporting legislation itself can lead to a reduction in GPG


“In 2006, Denmark required companies to publish their gender wage gap. A study of the impact of the legislation found that it reduced the gender pay gap by 2%4 The study also found that the legislation did not affect firm profitability, likely because it led to increased productivity.

A recent study of the introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting in the UK found that it has narrowed the gap between men and women because of a 3% decrease in men’s hourly pay and resulted in a 5% increase in the probability of women earning above-median wages. The study also found evidence that the reporting resulted in occupations with higher gender pay gaps demonstrating more women-friendly hiring practices5.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) surveyed 900 employers who did gender pay gap reporting in 2019. The majority believed that mandatory gender pay gap reporting provided a platform for increased focus on wider equality and diversity within their organisation and seven in ten said it has increased awareness of gender pay issues within the workplace6.


The need for more transparency, not less, in a post-Covid world


“We were disappointed that the Government chose to suspend, rather than delay, gender pay gap reporting and enforcement for this year. Given the high number of women who have been furloughed or worked reduced hours due to caring responsibilities, and the evidence of continuing gender inequality in other areas, this should have been a time for more - not less - transparency.”

~ Women & Equalities Select Committee report, ‘Unequal Impact? Coronavirus and the gendered economic impact’ (February 2021)

That’s why WACL has launched a petition calling on the UK government to reinstate mandatory Gender Pay Gap reporting in 2021 for all UK private & voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees.


Sign The Petition

Allied to this: the need for mandatory Ethnicity and Disability Pay Gap reporting


Decades of work to close the gender pay gap is at stake if this flagship report is shelved. No measurement means no management, and vitally needed focus will reduce essential workplace initiatives needed to close both pay & role gaps, further entrenching existing gender inequality in our economy.

Multiple sources7 show the disproportionately negative impact of the pandemic on women, particularly amongst Black, Asian, minority ethnic and Disabled women8.

WACL shares the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s view that “pay gaps reflect broader inequalities in society and tackling them is an important way to achieve a fairer society.” It is therefore vital employers are held accountable for reporting their Ethnicity and Disability Pay Paps, alongside their Gender Pay Gap.

How flexible working and becoming a #FlexibleFirst organisation can help

Flexible working is win:win for employers and employees alike, regardless of gender, and has a proven, direct impact9 on reducing the Gender Pay Gap.

In light of this, we fully support the recommendation made by the Women & Equalities Select Committee to the UK government to amend the Flexible Working Regulations 2014, to remove the 26-weeks’ service threshold for employees to request flexible working arrangements. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated how outdated, unhelpful and unnecessary it is to ask anyone to wait 26 weeks in a new role before they can request flexible working.

The impact of these three, powerful and symbiotic levers of gender equality - Gender Pay Gap reporting, diverse & inclusive workforces and flexible working at scale  - is perhaps best summed up by Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of Equality & Human Rights Commission:

“If we further develop the new ways of working that everyone has adjusted to during the pandemic, including building more flexible working options for employees, there is a real opportunity to increase the diversity of our workforce. This will not only help businesses by harnessing a range of talents, but also help reduce some of the inequality that exists in our society.”