Press Release

Fair pay back on the agenda for UK employers, Willis Towers Watson survey finds

In the aftermath of reporting requirements, almost 60% of UK employers say addressing gender pay gap becoming more important

July 11, 2018
| United Kingdom

LONDON, Wednesday 11 July, 2018 — Fresh pressure to ensure fair pay throughout the workplace and equal opportunity to progress is sparking UK employers into action to make sure their compensation and talent management programmes are really delivering, according to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson, 2018 Getting Compensation Right Survey.

The survey revealed that gender pay equality is becoming a more important factor for three in five UK employers (58%) when making individual base pay decisions. Half of UK employers (51%) said they had recently checked their pay arrangements to ensure they are meeting equal pay obligations and almost a third (29%) are planning to do so.

“The many debates that we are having in the UK around fairness are being reflected in the workplace. Employees want to know they are being paid fairly and have the same chances for promotion,” says Tamsin Sridhara, UK leader, Rewards and Talent, Willis Towers Watson. “The gender pay gap reporting requirements raised lots of questions for employees and in boardrooms. As a result, we are seeing leading UK employers committed to doing more and leading the way for global peers.”

Market competitiveness remains the main consideration for both UK and global employers in setting base pay. However, the renewed focus on pay equity amongst UK employers is in stark contrast to employers globally. Globally, only one in five employers (23%) reported that gender pay equality is an important factor in base pay decisions.

Removing bias from selection processes

Survey responses reveal increased activity at promoting diversity throughout companies. In the context of gender pay gap reporting, it is not surprising that the primary focus of several of these activities is gender diversity, however the activities can benefit all talent:

  • Re-evaluation of recruitment and promotion processes: Half of respondents (47%) are planning to review their recruitment and promotion processes. Such reviews can be used to identify and reduce the effects of any bias.
  • Flexible work arrangements: Nine out of ten employers (93%) responded that they have either already taken steps this year (or are planning to) to promote flexible working arrangements, or are considering taking such action over the next three years.
  • Inclusive culture: More than eight out of ten employers (87%) responded that they have either already started this year (or are planning to) to increase their communications of activities to promote an inclusive culture, or are considering taking such action over the next three years.

Hazel Rees, UK leader, Executive Compensation, Willis Towers Watson, reflects “The pressure on companies to do more to promote fair pay and diverse talent in the workplace is not going to go away. The new disclosure requirements on CEO pay ratios will reflect another dimension of fairness in the workplace. Likewise, the predicted changes to the UK Governance Code will stress the importance of a diverse pipeline into senior roles and give employees a greater voice.” 

About the survey

The 2018 Getting Compensation Right Survey was conducted in April 2018. A total of 1,949 employers worldwide, including 79 UK employers, participated. UK respondents collectively employ more than 900,000 employees.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has over 40,000 employees serving in more than 140 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimise benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.