The Diversity and Inclusion Manager presented a report regarding the Gender Pay Gap, stating that it was a statutory requirement to report on this topic. Key points of the report were highlighted as:
· Slough Borough Council consistently reported a lower than average gender pay gap. As was the case with most local authorities, Slough employed more women than men across all pay quartiles.
· The staff engagement survey from 2020 showed that 70% of staff felt that there was good gender equality at SBC. However, discrepancies remained between the pay of men and women, particularly in the low representation of women in higher paid, senior posts.
· The mean average showed that women earned 10% less than men. This gap had increased since 2020. The median average was a negative value of -3.1%. In real terms, this meant that the mean hourly rate for men was £18.62 and the mean women’s hourly rate was £16.75.
The Committee discussed the differentiation between the mean and median data as set out in the report and it was noted that although overall there were more women applicants than men, this was less so at a senior level or in specialist roles. Members asked a number of questions, which included what the organisation was doing to address the imbalance. It was explained that a number of strategies had been adopted including the introduction of blind applications and balanced interview panels, measures which would act as good counterbalances to any unconscious bias or indirect discrimination on the part of recruiters.
A Member asked for details of the average hourly pay in comparison to the national average and it was noted that this information would be circulated to the Committee. It was highlighted that a number of factors affected the average pay rate in the UK including sector and bonuses. It was explained that performance related bonuses were not awarded at the Council and the ‘bonus payments’ referred to in the report related to one off payments to employees for long term service.
Following a general discussion regarding part-time workers and what the authority was doing to support them, it was explained that the pandemic had accelerated the move to agile working which had benefitted many employees in allowing flexible working; especially female employees as there were more female part-time workers than male at the Council. Concern was expressed that working from home could adversely also impact on the work-life balance for individuals and it was explained that it was for employees to discuss workloads with their manager and to ensure clarity around the parameters of their workloads/hours of work.
It was noted that the current senior management at the Council did not reflect Slough’s wider community and the Chair asked what measures the Our Futures Transformation Programme had implemented to address this. The Diversity and Inclusion Manager explained that to reflect an accurate representation would take time but ultimately was dependant on applications received for senior posts. Work was on-going to gain an understanding as to the reasons why and measures such as having a Positive Discrimination Policy could seek to improve representation from females and Black and Minority Ethnic Groups. Whilst the Council encouraged applicants to divulge details relating to ethnicity, collating such information was not mandatory.
Resolved – That the independently calculated and verified results of the 2020 gender pay gap for Slough Borough Council employees and proposal to develop an action plan be noted.