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Gender pay reporting will encourage parity, says FDM’s Sheila Flavell

IT-focused professional services company FDM has encouraged firms to adopt gender pay reporting after revealing a pay gap of 6% across its firm

FDM has encouraged firms to adopt gender pay reporting sooner rather than later to increase diversity and inclusion across organisations and within IT teams.

The IT-focused professional services provider has reported an average gender pay gap of 6% throughout its firm, compared with the UK average of 18.1%.

Sheila Flavell, chief operating officer of FDM, said the firm adopted gender pay gap reporting before the April 2018 deadline to reflect the efforts it makes to encourage parity across the IT industry throughout its own firm, and encouraged others to do the same.

“We pride ourselves on our commitment to diversity and strive to create equality in all aspects of our workforce,” she said.

“In developing a culture that supports diversity, social mobility and inclusion, we have learned that if you measure and monitor, you can take proactive steps to understand where the issues lie and devise strategies to develop a culture that supports and improves gender parity.”

The UK’s gender pay gap laws were introduced in April 2017 and state that employers with more than 250 employees in any year must publish figures including the gender pay gap mean and median average in their organisation within 12 months.

These firms will also have to publish the mean and median gender pay difference for bonuses, the number of males and females receiving a bonus payment, and the proportion of males and females divided into four groups, ordered from lowest pay to highest.

The rules were met with scepticism from women in the IT industry when first introduced, with some claiming many firms have complex pay grade structures which makes figures hard to understand, and others suspecting that large firms will find a way to avoid having to publish their figures.

The gender pay gap has been evident in the technology industry for a long time. In 2009, research showed the gender pay gap for UK IT professionals was at an average of 13%.

This figure is on the decline – in 2016, a study found that women in the UK technology industry make on average 9% less than their male counterparts despite there being no obvious reason for the gap.

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The UK government website states one of the reasons for the gender pay gap is that “many high paying sectors are disproportionately made up of male workers” and cites technology as one of these sectors.

Many believe maternity leave is one of the reasons the gender pay gap exists, as it often forces women to take a career break after which they find it more difficult to progress.

FDM uses its Back to Business programme to help women and other groups looking to re-join the workforce to increase diversity in the IT industry by training individuals in the skills needed to fill roles.

“Returners are a valuable source of experience for an organisation, and they are an untapped talent pool,” said Flavell.

“By making it easier for women in particular to re-enter their careers in tech, we’re also potentially building a strong pipeline of women who can progress through the management structure and reach board level and help drive diversity further.”

As well as a gender pay gap, the IT industry also has a lack of women at senior management level with three-quarters of technology firms failing to reflect gender diversity throughout their senior management.

But many believe change is on the horizon – despite the number of women in the technology industry staying steadfast at approximately 12% for the past 10 years, research suggests the number of women in the technology industry will increase by 2020.

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