While many contributing factors to the gender pay gap have been talked about to death, the number one culprit remains undisputed: taking time off to have children. 

After having children, many women give up their high-flying careers and often settle for a local role that pays less, but provides the flexibility to work around childcare. Alternatively, they may set up their own business so they can work the hours that suit them and be more present for their families. 

This drop off of women from the workplace at this stage in life results in a lack of women in highly paid leadership positions. While many companies are making great efforts to close their pay gap by hiring women into senior roles, this move alone isn’t a sustainable solution if the organisation isn’t able to bring about the long-term changes needed to keep their female employees who choose to have children.

That being said, some companies are leading the way in closing the gender pay gap, like digital bank, Monzo, as referenced in the Guardian last week. They have cracked it with their caregiving, mentoring and flexible working schemes. With a stated corporate value of inclusivity, they have demonstrated that living their values has measurable results, creating policy and working practices that have closed their gender pay gap by 34%.  

Viacom UK is another success story, going as far as to promote flexible working and paid parental leave equally to both men and women. This level playing field is working with a gender pay gap of just 2%, one of the lowest reported.

So, for those with the largest gender pay gaps, blanket pay increases will only treat the symptom, not the cause. The causes run as deep as social constructs and assumptions, but placing a high value on inclusion and bringing it to life through the working practices of the organisation is great place to start.

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