Pets at Home staff stood outside their store Pets at Home staff stood outside their store

Closing the gender pay gap: how businesses are taking action

Pets at Home: promoting flexible working

Pets at Home staff

"The main thing to remember is that there is no ‘silver bullet’ to closing pay gaps. It’s about implementing a number of changes, often those which may seem minor, but cumulatively they make a difference."

Vicky Hill, Head of People

At Pets at Home we offer flexibility across as many roles as possible – whatever the level. Why is this so important? Because we want to ensure we can recruit, retain and develop the best people, and it is part of the action we are taking to close our pay gaps.

We aim to develop our employees into ‘friendly experts’ and this takes up to 8 years, so retaining those people we have invested in for as long as we can is an essential component of our success. We recognise that people go through a range of life changes during their time with us. For some this includes getting married and starting a family, while others may need to care for relatives or even experience health difficulties themselves. We support them as much as we can to enable them to continue working with us. Longer job tenure and the opportunity to progress to senior roles are key to reducing gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.

Organisations have to find out what works for them. Flexibility might look different in practice depending on the team or the type of work, but it’s about looking at your business and your employees in the round, and creating a supportive culture that reflects their needs and aspirations. Office work is very different to retail and distribution, for example. You also need to find out what is right for each employee at particular times during their career.

We actively promote our flexible working options in job adverts and through our management training, but there’s more we can do – particularly with making fathers aware of what we offer. Requests to work flexibly go through peaks and troughs, and it’s important to remember that even though structures and processes can be adjusted fairly quickly, culture change takes time and effort.

We’re working hard to develop a diverse pipeline of talent at Pets at Home. Lots of women work for us and we want to remove any barriers to their progression. Examples of what we have done include moving towards more online training courses where appropriate, as mothers sometimes find it hard to travel, assessing what elements of work can be done at home, and looking critically at our job adverts to see if we’re inadvertently introducing hurdles for specific applicants. We believe these changes will also encourage more disabled people to work for us.

The main thing to remember is that there is no ‘silver bullet’ to closing pay gaps. It’s about implementing a number of changes, often those which may seem minor, but cumulatively they make a difference. It’s about reinforcing these and reviewing them continuously – changing culture and mindsets can take time. We’re at the start of our journey at Pets at Home, but are dedicated to getting it right for our people and our business.

PageGroup: focus on measurement

"It is absolutely critical that we measure and report back, and analysis of the results will be imperative to ensure we understand what measures we need to take to ensure we continue to close the gap over the coming years."

Sarah Kirk, Global Diversity and Inclusion Director

Why do you think it is important to monitor and measure the gender pay gap?

I live by the saying ‘what gets measured gets done’. Every single programme that is launched across our business has a robust measurement structure, which allows us to understand how each is performing. If you know the figures, it can help you understand where the gaps are and which direction you need to be heading. This is the same for our Gender Pay Gap reporting, which we are currently working to complete. It is absolutely critical that we measure and report back, and analysis of the results will be imperative to ensure we understand what measures we need to take to ensure we continue to close the gap over the coming years.

Can you describe what’s in PageGroup’s action plan to tackle the gender pay gap?

Although we haven’t published our gender pay gap just yet, we can share some ways in which we have been helping to close it in recent years.

The most transformative step we have taken is to create a Dynamic Working framework, which allows employees at all levels to work better and smarter by improving their work-life balance. This has changed the way we work, both together and as individuals. It reflects the trust we have in our employees to perform at their best, by giving them balance, choices and openness without focusing on presenteeism. Offering this flexibility has helped us to support, develop and retain talented working parents. To support this, we also offer a pre/post maternity coaching programme, as well as parenting seminars and a mentoring programme.  

We have also become members of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Working Forward programme to connect with a network of other employers who are all committed to making their workplaces the best they can be for working parents. Through this programme, we have been given access to resources to help our line managers and working mothers feel fully supported during maternity leave or upon return to work.

Capgemini: promoting female leadership

Frances Duffy, UK HR Director at Capgemini

"Our gender pay gap is primarily caused by having fewer women in senior roles, so we are working hard to ensure we improve the percentage of senior women, through a focus on our talent pipeline."

Frances Duffy, UK HR Director

Why do you think it is important to monitor and measure the gender pay gap?

Publishing the gender pay gap is important, and so are the actions that follow. It is easy to become complacent but public publishing and monitoring is a great way to ensure your workplace is committed to making a real difference. Our clients too expect us to offer a strong inclusive environment and we know that supporting women helps us to offer them the best service possible.

We will shortly be publishing our gender pay gap and are busy working on our action plan to help close our gap in the future.  

Can you describe what’s in your action plan to tackle the gender pay gap?

Our gender pay gap is primarily caused by having fewer women in senior roles, so we are working hard to ensure we improve the percentage of senior women, through a focus on our talent pipeline.

Alongside this, we launched our Active Inclusion programme to engage all team members in creating a culture where everybody feels accepted and able to thrive in an environment that supports their career and wellbeing. The first step has been to improve opportunities for flexibility by encouraging smart and effective use of working hours through the launch of our work-life harmony policy. This has been underpinned by a comprehensive educational programme for our vice presidents, hiring managers and line managers , which has given us the confidence to advertise most of our roles as flexible.

Secondly, we have proactively promoted our female role models both within and outside the organisation and look forward to piloting a returnships programme in September 2017. We are also members of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Working Forward campaign to support new and expectant mothers which has given us a glimpse into what our peers are offering to support their employees at this crucial time in their working lives.

Creating a flexible working culture at John Lewis Partnership and Ford UK

Last updated: 05 Sep 2017