How we created a meaningful gender pay gap action plan

by Simi Dubb, Global Diversity and Inclusion Director at Centrica Plc

Published: 25 Feb 2019

Centrica Plc won the 2018 ICSA Award for Gender Pay Gap Reporting of the Year.

Simi shares what Centrica Plc is doing and offers advice on creating a meaningful gender pay gap action plan.

Develop a clear and transparent gender pay gap report and action plan 

At the heart of our communications approach was the need to be clear and transparent.

We wanted to give employees a detailed account of why we have a gender pay gap and what we’re doing to help close it.

Most employers do have a gender pay gap, so it’s good to be upfront. Transparency will help improve understanding and help us drive change.

One of our concerns was that stakeholders and employees may confuse ‘equal pay’ and ‘gender pay gap’. We made sure we clarified the difference in our action plan.

When developing the action plan we thought about the ‘employee lifecycle’, from recruitment to retention and progression, to show how we’ll improve inclusion at all stages of employment. 

What we’re doing  

Reviewing our recruitment practices

Reviewing our recruitment practices will help women access development opportunities. The kind of actions we are undertaking include:

  • making sure that recruitment panels are gender-balanced
  • encouraging recruitment agencies to provide gender balanced shortlists
  • enabling our leadership team to take unconscious bias training

Inspiring young women and girls

We want to inspire the next generation of young women and girls to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects (STEM).

We are doing this by:

  • running competitions with Talent 2030 to help young women and girls develop STEM skills
  • working with the Royal Academy of Engineering to showcase female role models

Supporting parents and carers

We know that returning to work after starting a family can be challenging.

We are producing toolkits for managers to help them improve the experience for returning parents.

We are improving our shared parental leave policy, to encourage more men to take-up childcare responsibilities.

Furthermore, we have developed our flexible working and carer policy, to help employees balance work and caring responsibilities.

Employees have really got on board with our flexible working options – it benefits all of us, and has the indirect effect of helping women in particular.

We have also launched a partnership with Carers UK that will explore more ways that we can make life better for carers.

Creating a women’s network and offering mentoring

We have created a women’s network to help staff access professional development.

The network provides access to mentoring, with the aim to help women further their practical skills and have inspiring role models. 

We spoke to our women’s network to figure out what type of activities would best contribute to reducing our gender pay gap.

We’re also doing reverse mentoring, where senior managers are mentored by more junior members of staff.

Looking at the representation of women across the whole organisation

We want to make sure talented women are represented across all our pay grades.

To do this we’re monitoring the current situation, and looking to other FTSE companies for advice on improving representation across the pay grades.

What is the impact of our actions?

We have already noted an increase in senior female hires. Focusing on helping senior women progress is one of our priority areas.

We have had feedback from our colleagues across the organisation that our rigorous action plan is helping us towards tackling our gender pay gap.

We are on the journey of improvement. Our actions are beginning to be embedded, with the aim of promoting culture change across the organisation.

This work on gender pay has empowered us to start reviewing ethnicity pay gaps.

Our advice for employers on where to start

Be transparent and open about talking about your gender pay gap figures

Think about how you will communicate your gender pay gap, and what it means, both internally and externally. You might consider developing an internal communications plan.

Be realistic about your action plan

Changes won't happen overnight and you need to be upfront about this with colleagues and stakeholders.

Setting targets will help you reach your goals.

Be open-minded

Seek feedback from employees for new ideas. Keep developing and improving current actions.

Get senior leaders on board

Senior leaders have the potential to drive positive change, for example, by promoting diversity and inclusion strategies across the organisation.

Involve everyone

It’s important to involve all colleagues, no matter what their gender, when discussing action plans. This is not just an issue for women.

Work with external organisations

We have built relationships with the Women’s Business Council, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Energy UK.

These relationships are helping us find ways to encourage women to apply for positions where women are under-represented.

Think about your timescales

Working with existing colleagues, for example, revising recruitment practices, is just one part of creating change.

Longer term activities, such as outreach in schools, will be slower to take effect.

Think about where you are now and where you want to be in the future.