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“Close the gender pay gap by being more transparent with salaries”

Director of London-based recruitment company explains how Retail Human Resources’ open pay policy builds trust

More companies should look to adopt open pay policies within the workplace to help close the UK gender pay gap, according to a London-based recruitment company. Peter Burgess, Director at Retail Human Resources, a recruitment company specialising in the retail sector, has overseen an open salary policy for over 20-years which he says “builds trust and respect, and ensures that people are not, unwittingly, treated unfairly”.

With reports revealing that those with more than 250 employees will be forced to reveal their pay gap with regulations affecting about 8,000 employers across the UK, Peter also believes a focus is needed on changing attitudes that exclude women from certain job roles.

Commenting on the potential of using quotas as a method of increasing women in positions of management, Peter says: “Personally I don’t believe in quotas.  It should be the best person for the job. A far better way of dealing with this is for companies that clearly do not encourage females into top management positions to be named and possibly shamed.  There is no doubt that women are just as effective as men in running large companies.  But market pressure and persuasion will work better than just having your token woman doing a non-job on the board.  Before politicians get involved with this they should put their own house in order. How many women are on any parties’ front bench?”

Peter also believes that by introducing more transparency on salaries within the workplace, significant and wholesale changes will be seen when it comes to the national gender pay gap and argues that in any company, salary transparency leads to better culture, higher retention and a more effective business than secrecy.

Peter adds: “People ask me why I do it. I say back to them ‘why keep it secret?’ Jobs are clearly defined with a salary connected to each role and strict criteria on the qualities required for people to qualify for a higher salary. The commission structure is easy to understand and when managers recruit someone from another agency, there are no ‘private deals’ where someone negotiates a few thousand more on their base pay or an extra week’s holiday. I say to managers, if you had someone who’s earning a lower salary than someone else for the same job, could you look them in the eye and tell them why that’s the case? If people don’t understand how they are paid then they become suspicious of it. They think ‘I’m sure they are doing this to screw me over’. They feel cheated. The problem is that for so long as salaries are kept secret, ancient discrepancies in what people are paid are carried forward, even unwittingly by employers. The only way to sort this issue out is for salary policies to be open.  Sadly in the private sector almost all companies have a culture of secrecy around who is paid what and until that changes this problem will not go away.”