• Require companies with 50 staff or more to publish gender pay gaps and make all companies publish their plans to reduce the gap as part of the gender pay audit process.
  • Fine companies that fail to address substantial pay gender gaps.
  • Penalise companies that do not comply with the Equality Act 2010.
  • Change the requirement for information on salaries to be in deciles rather than the current quartiles.
  • Include information on the part-time pay gap and pay gaps by ethnicity and disability.

The Government Equalities Office has published what it calls a "what works" guide for employers: Reducing the gender pay gap and improving gender equality in organisations: evidence-based actions for employers.

It has looked at a range of strategies and what the evidence shows to what extent they work. The obvious omission on the list is negotiating with unions on collective agreements/house agreements on gender pay gap policies.


Most effective

  • Include multiple women in shortlists for recruitment and promotions.
  • Use skill-based assessment tasks in recruitment – don't rely on interview alone.
  • Use structured interviews for recruitment and promotions. Ask the same questions of all candidates in a predetermined order and format. Grade the responses using pre-specified, standardised criteria. This makes the responses comparable and reduces the impact of unconscious bias.
  • Encourage salary negotiation by showing salary ranges.
  • Introduce transparency to promotion, pay and reward processes
  • Appoint diversity managers and/or diversity task forces.

Promising actions

  • Improve workplace flexibility for men and women. Advertise and offer all jobs as having flexible working options, such as part-time work, remote working, job sharing or compressed hours.
  • Encourage the uptake of Shared Parental Leave.
  • Recruit returners.
  • Offer mentoring and sponsorship. Mentors provide guidance and advice to their mentee while sponsors support the advancement and visibility of the person they are sponsoring. Some evidence suggests that mentoring programmes work very well for some women but not for others.
  • Offer networking programmes.
  • Set internal targets. One way of increasing the likelihood that goals will be reached is by setting specific, time-bound targets: what change will be achieved, and by when?

Actions with mixed results

The paper says sometimes these actions work and sometimes they don't. It could be the way they are implemented, but the authors say the evidence isn't there to make them a general recommendation.

  • Unconscious bias training.
  • Diversity training. Some research in the US has found that mandatory diversity training either does not change the number of women in management positions, or actually reduces it. It may be because people resent being made to do something and so do not take the training seriously.
  • Leadership development training. Some people feel that these programmes imply that the women themselves are the problem.
  • Performance self-assessments.
  • Diverse selection panels. More research is needed to understand the conditions under which a diverse selection panel is or isn’t effective for improving gender equality.
  • A report on executive pay by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the High Pay Centre think-tank found that while women make up 7 per cent of FTSE 100 chief executives, they account for only 3.5 per cent of total pay.