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University of Sussex takes action to address gender pay gap

The University of Sussex has announced a series of new recruitment and progression measures to address the pay gap between male and female staff.

The gender pay gap is a measure of disadvantage (a gap) expressed as a comparison between what, on average, men earn and what, on average, women earn across the University.

A gender pay gap is different from an equal pay gap. Equal pay is the right for men and women to be paid the same for the same\equivalent work or work of equal value. The most recent University review into equal pay indicates that Sussex does not have an institutional equal pay issue. 

The University has released its gender pay gap findings today (12 March 2018), reporting a 15.3% median pay gap for basic pay (excluding bonuses) and a 20.8% mean pay gap. The gap between men and women was higher for bonuses: a 50.0% median bonus gap, and a 58.2% mean bonus gap.

Under UK legislation introduced in 2017, employers with more than 250 staff must publish their gender pay gap on an annual basis, with all organisations due to report this year by 4 April.

Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equalities and Diversity and Head of Politics, Claire Annesley, said: “We welcome the requirement for Sussex and all institutions to report on the gender pay gap, as it helps us to identify the issues and introduce important changes. We have much to do, but we are committed to it and it is right that we are held to account. 

“Although we don’t have an institutional issue with equal pay at Sussex, we do have an issue with the under representation of women at the higher levels of the organisation. Although the overall gender split for Sussex is 53% female: 47% male, the majority of high earners are men.”

The University has identified two possible causes for the gender pay gap: women are not rising through the ranks; and Sussex is failing to attract women to senior posts.

To tackle these progression and recruitment issues, the University will be taking a new approach to flexible working for all current employees as well as during the recruitment process. The University will become ‘flexible by default’. Feedback from Athena SWAN focus groups last year highlighted flexible working as a key issue and the new approach has been designed to respond to this.

Claire continued: “It is key that we remain focussed on improving the progression of women through the University, and how we move more women into senior roles.

“It is widely acknowledged that, by offering flexible working, organisations will encourage a more diverse workforce, retain a high level of female employees, and also help women to progress. 

“In addition, by making our commitment to flexible working clear at the recruitment stage, it will help us attract women to new posts at all levels.

“We will take a proactive approach to flexible working, encouraging and supporting individuals who want greater flexibility and making it easy to arrange and change.  We will promote a culture where we say ‘yes’ to flexible working, unless there is a good reason to say ‘no’, and all new positions will be advertised as suitable for flexible working, unless there’s a clear business reason for not doing so.”

The launch of the new University-wide mentoring framework on 19 February means the University is ready to set up and support more mentoring schemes in schools and divisions to help staff plan and develop their careers.

The University will also undertake a review of its discretionary pay processes (including bonuses) to ensure that they are fair and transparent and minimise the risk of unconscious bias.

More detail on the University’s recommendations is available in the Gender Pay Gap report, published today. Please see the ‘Our Action Plan’ section towards the end. 

Over the next months the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit and Human Resources will be providing more detailed information and guidance on how the University will be supporting staff through these important changes.

Claire finished by saying: “We will ensure that we manage and develop the talent of all our staff. As an organisation we are committed to tackling our gender pay gap and we recognise that this will take time and commitment.”

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Monday, 12 March 2018