Helen Green

Pay, Leadership and Diversity

When one of our colleagues was very young she believed that radio station DJs had to fit their normal jobs around the programs which they presented because simply talking between records couldn’t possibly be a paying job. Thanks to the BBC’s publication of pay rates for its highest earners we now know differently. But, naive as she may have been at a young age, our colleague’s belief does serve to highlight the way in which acceptable pay rates are very much in the eye of the beholder.

For example, why are reported pay rates so often compared to that received by the Prime Minister? Why not compare them to a premiership footballer or a nurse, an engineer or an apprentice; and what makes a particular salary in one job acceptable, whereas in another occupation it is seen as highly inappropriate? And then there is the question of whether two colleagues doing the same job should receive the same rate of pay even if they have different levels of experience or qualifications?

There is no one simple answer but there are a couple of observations which we can make. The first is that when all else is equal then an inequality in pay levels is only going to lead to allegations of discrimination in one form or another. Study after study makes the case for the benefit of diversity and inclusion at all levels across organisations but unconscious pay bias signals that there is still some way to go.

Secondly, it is one of the duties of a director to promote the success of the company through various means including acting in the interests of the company’s employees. Maintaining a fair, open and honest pay structure is in the long run far more in the interests of the organisation than creating a culture of mistrust and secrecy.

Leaders who look to build a culture of trust need to do so across the board if their actions are to be believed. At the end of the day you want your entire team to collaborate together in order to meet the organisation’s goals. Diversity, inclusion and trust will go a long way towards delivering the strategy.