The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has launched a toolkit to help employers take practical steps to address gender equality as research shows that women are more likely to be in sectors shut down by Covid.
The CMI has published new gender pay gap guidance for UK businesses, which includes a raft of measures organisations should be taking, including anonymising CVs and application forms, providing diversity targets to recruitment consultants, and actively promoting shared parental leave and flexible working.
The new toolkit provides real-life case studies from business leaders, alongside a list of evidence-based actions to help employers take practical steps to address gender equality.
In the UK, it is mandatory for organisations of 250 or more employees to publish their gender pay gap every year, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak, enforcement of pay gap reporting in 2020 was suspended.
The latest figures show that just over 5,000 employers - out of the approximately 12,500 in scope - have reported their gender pay gap figures ahead of the reporting deadline on 4 October 2021
While enforcement will resume in October 2021, fears remain that action around the gender pay gap could be de-prioritised by businesses, despite clear evidence that women have been disproportionately disadvantaged during the pandemic.
Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, said: "With the widespread move to more flexible working, this could provide more opportunities for women, but there are also real risks of women being left out of decision making and a reduction in the support that helps women progress their career. Now that the economic ship is being steadied, it would be a stain on our national conscience to allow a two-tier workforce to emerge in the UK.
"As we emerge from the pandemic, managers and leaders are faced with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build back better and more inclusively, but progress on the gender pay gap is at real risk of being taken for granted."
CMI research from February this year has also shown the challenges that working mothers face in the workplace; they are more likely to be in communication less than once a week with their manager than UK employees overall (29% compared to 23%).
The guidance includes recommended actions and resources from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the body responsible for enforcing equality laws in Great Britain, which holds the ability to take action against employers who do not comply with their reporting obligations.
Suzanne Baxter, EHRC Commissioner, added: "With the deadline for gender pay gap reporting fast approaching, employers should look beyond the numbers and start considering what action they are going to take to close their pay gaps. This is more important than ever.
"The pandemic has had specific effects on women in the workplace and if we want to continue the progress that has been made towards workplace equality, then action to address the causes of pay gaps needs to be a key priority."