Addressing the gender pay gap: employer methods

This report presents the findings of 14 interviews with employers in the private and public sector.

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Business Benefits of Closing the Gender Pay Gap


infographic - Business Benefits of Closing the Gender Pay Gap

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Business Benefits of Closing the Gender Pay Gap

In Scotland, there is a Gender Pay Gap, favouring men, of 15% when comparing all workers. This is 5.7% when comparing full-time workers.

41% of women work part-time, compared with 11% of men. Part-time work is, on average, lower paid than full-time work.

The gender pay gap intersects with other inequalities connected to ethnicity, disability and age, amongst others. For example, it increases with age.

Narrowing the gender pay gap could contribute up to £17.2 billion to the Scottish economy.*

To learn more about the steps businesses could take to tackle the gender pay gap and the benefits of doing so, we interviewed 14 employers in the private and public sectors.

The purpose of this report is to support employers, large and small, in engaging with the gender pay gap using examples from across the economy. Even small changes can make a big difference.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap can have big Business Benefits. Employers Told us That…

*The £17.2 billion figure comes from Close the Gap and is cited by the Scottish Parliament (2017) in 'No Small Change: The Economic Potential of Closing the Gender Pay Gap.' Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee, 6th Report,


infographic - Closing the Gender Pay Gap Means Hiring the Best People

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Closing the Gender Pay Gap Means Hiring the Best People

Many employers had taken steps to make their recruitment processes gender sensitive. The key benefit: Always Getting the Best Person for the Job.

This meant reviewing the language of adverts and job descriptions. Doing makes sense you avoid putting off female applicants due to subtle biases that imply that you are expecting a man to apply. It also meant making selection processes gender sensitive, with standardised methods, mixed assessments and unconscious bias training for recruiters.

Having a low or no gender pay gap can also make you more attractive to female applicants, and if you can offer flexible and remote working opportunities you may increase the pool of potential applicants.

"Is the language there because it's historically been there and nobody's ever thought to challenge it?"
Specialist HR Consultant & Performance and Reward Lead, Scottish Water

Closing the Gender Pay Gap Means You Keep Great Employees

Many employers had, or were developing, great policies for employees looking to start families. The key benefit: You Keep Great People.

This meant having the right conversations with employees taking maternity leave and working out the best levels of contact with them during that time. Many employers were creating buddy systems for women returning after leave. Some were providing enhanced benefits from day one and harmonising paternity leave entitlements to encourage equal sharing of childcare responsibility. Some employers were also developing or already providing intensive, paid internships for women and men returning to work after career breaks, whether they had formerly worked with the organisation or not.

Policies like this mean you can attract and retain great employees, while developing talent over the long-term.

"You retain high-performing staff. You want to keep your best staff, and staff have lives and families."
Operations Manager, Prepress Projects


infographic - Closing the Gender Pay Gap is About the Benefits of Gender Equality

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Closing the Gender Pay Gap is About the Benefits of Gender Equality

A key goal for many employers was having more women in senior positions. The key benefit: Better Performance Through Gender Equality.

Increasing the number of women in senior positions meant mentoring, gender balanced leadership development programmes, unconscious bias training and company cultures that fostered inclusion. Evidence suggests that increasing the gender balance in leadership can have a range of benefits, including better decision making, improved performance and higher profitability.*

"We as a company are looking to grow. We work in tech. We are looking at fresh ideas, how we make products, and we want people who have different ways of looking at things"
Head of People, Amiqus Resolution LLP

Closing the Gender Pay Gap Means Modernising Your Workforce

Many employers we spoke to had great policies for flexible working. The key benefit: A Modern, Agile Workforce That Gets the Best Out of Staff.

Flexible working can mean variable hours, remote working or compressed hours, i.e. working full time hours on a shorter work week. It can also mean incorporating a month of unpaid leave into contracts to support work-life balance, as Deloitte have done with their 'Time Out' programme.

Flexible working can have important benefits for employers, with research suggesting that it can boost employee commitment, motivation and engagement

"...if you get this right you will be a really successful organisation...and if you lead your team well you don't need to see them to know they are committed. You trust and you respect them.."*
Managing Partner for Talent, Deloitte LLP.

*For evidence on the benefits of gender equality on company performance, see: Close the Gap (2016) Gender Equality Pays: The Economic Case for Addressing Women's Labour Market Equality and McKinsey & Company (2018) Delivering through Diversity. For the benefits of flexible working arrangements, see Acas (2015) Flexible Working and work-life balance, BIE (2014) The fourth work-life balance employer survey (2013) Research paper No. 184: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and CIPD (2019) Megatrends report: Flexible Working. CIPD


infographic - What the Scottish Government is Doing to Help Employers Close the Pay Gap

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What the Scottish Government is Doing to Help Employers Close the Gender Pay Gap

In March 2019, the Scottish Government launched a Gender Pay Gap Action Plan. To help businesses in closing the gender pay gap:

We will be funding a Returners Project, to assist women who have taken a break from the labour market back into work.

We will be reviewing the Scottish Business Pledge to continue developing Scotland's most forward thinking businesses.

We will be maintaining and extending the Workplace Equality Fund and supporting organisations challenging occupational segregation and promoting flexible working.

We will be developing and consulting on a plan for after school and holiday childcare. We will also evaluate the impact of the investment to increase the number of funded hours on labour market outcomes for parents and consider what further action may be required to further strengthen women's equal access to the labour market.

We will help businesses to develop gender pay gap action plans and assist them in sharing best practice for closing the gap.

You can read the full Action Plan here:

For further support in engaging with the gender pay gap at your organisation:

Scottish Enterprise: Workplace Innovation Fund

EHRC: Closing the Pay Gap

Close the Gap: Guidance and Tools for Employers

Family Friendly Working Scotland



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