Closing The Gender Pay Gap, Wellbeing and Data:

Our three key takeaways from National Work Life Week conference

Last week was National Work Life Week: an opportunity for employers and employees to focus on wellbeing at work and promote work-life balance, and celebrate best practice.

On Tuesday, we were proud to attend Working Families’ National Work Life Conference, kindly hosted by Allen & Overy in London, to discuss how leading employers can tackle gender equality, create family-friendly workplaces, optimise organisational performance, and improve their people’s wellbeing. The event was a lively discussion with more than 100 HR and D&I practitioners in attendance and a variety of speakers from leading organisations including Allen & Overy, Government Equalities Office, Deloitte, Arnold Clark, Zurich and the Financial Ombudsman Services.

If you missed the event, here are our three takeaways:

1.    The gender pay gap won’t be closed quickly.

Since its introduction in April 2017 gender pay gap reporting has become a benchmark for employers and a key area of focus as we look to improve gender equality in the workplace. It’s great to see so many leading employers, many of whom we are proud to partner with, already taking meaningful steps in this area. However, as Dr Kiren Vadher cautioned everyone in her speech, we must remember that the gap won’t change quickly and maintaining momentum is of paramount importance. An action completed this year won’t necessarily mean a percentage change the following year, but over time these actions will have a positive impact.

2.    Work should never be at the expense of your wellbeing.

Wellbeing has quickly become the buzzword over the last few years and we’re seeing a growing number of employers increasing their focus on wellbeing initiatives in the workplace: from flexible working initiatives and wellness programmes, to back-up care for children and adults, and physical, financial and mental health programmes.

And one fantastic employer story came from Kate Granville-Hamshar, Talent Manager at Deloitte. Over the last 10 years, Deloitte has committed to supporting its people’s mental health and wellbeing and today, their focus is on three key areas: support; culture and openness; with the purpose of ensuring a consistent experience for everyone.

Their commitment is a top-down approach with senior leaders actively promoting positive mental health in the workplace. At a conference recently this message was very clearly conveyed and acted as an important reminder for us all: “We expect you to work hard, but this should never be at the expense of your wellbeing”.

3.    Look at the data.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, once said “Data really powers everything that we do.” And he was certainly on to something, as the speakers at the conference agreed.

Dr Kiren Vadher shared the importance of recording data on flexible working and family friendly policies as a benchmark for employers seeking to tackle inequality and reduce their gender pay gap.

Sophie Timms, Head of Corporate Affairs at Zurich shared their story of working with GEO to analyse trends in recruitment, retention and engagement to understand where their challenges lay and how Zurich could effectively address them (just 8 simple word changes in Zurich’s job description saw a 45% increase in applications from women for senior roles!).

And Juliana Francis, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing at the Financial Ombudsman Service concluded the argument for data, explaining how the organisation’s successful new strategy for mental health and wellbeing began with looking at the data around absenteeism, long-term sickness and retention: while the cost for introducing the programme was £15,000 their strategy has saved over £2.2 million for the organisation.

In Spring, we’re delighted to be partnering with Working Families once again to launch our 2020 Modern Families Index, sharing with you the challenges and aspirations of today’s working families. To read our 2019 Index, please click here.