Shannon Chamber’s HR Forum focused on Gender Pay Gap reporting

Pictured at the Shannon Chamber HR Forum briefing in Ei Electronics’ Centre of Excellence (from left): Sarah Fagan, managing director, Adare Human Resource Management; Erin Hooban, HR Forum chair; Michael Guinee, chairman, CEO and founder, Ei Electronics; Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber; Elanor Nash, chief people officer, An Post; and Anna Kinsella, director, PwC. Photograph by Eamon Ward

With gender pay gap reporting now obligatory for companies employing more than 250 people, and those employing 150 and more required to submit reports from 2024, Shannon Chamber’s HR Forum members were given a debrief on the lessons learnt since reporting became mandatory in 2022 and what to look out for when filing their reports next December.

The briefing, which was held in Ei Electronics’ Centre of Excellence in Shannon, was given by PwC’s Anna Kinsella, who has been leading out on PwC’s gender pay gap offering for the last number of years and has supported a large number of companies to prepare their mandatory gender pay gap reports.

Gender pay gap is the difference in the average hourly wage of all men and all women in the total workforce at an organisation, regardless of their roles and according to Ms Kinsella, calculating hours of work, non-payroll data, the impact of social welfare payments, bonuses, and benefit in kind vouchers are just some of the areas that companies struggled with. Her advice to attendees was to document what was done last year, focus in on areas of concern and take action to close the gender pay gap.

To give an example of the type of action companies can take to close the gap, Shannon Chamber invited An Post’s chief people officer, Elanor Nash, to present to the Forum. As the first major employer in Ireland to report a Zero Gender Pay Gap for the second year in a row and having made significant progress in balancing representation across its business, the presentation was enlightening.

Ms Nash stated that An Post now has a 50:50 balance on its management board and female representation in the senior management group increased from 33% to 41% in 2022, up by 7% from 2021. However, with gender representation among postal sorting, collection and delivery operations staff at 13% female compared to 87% male, Ms Nash said that An Post has committed to replicating their success of gender representation at the front line of their business with a clear strategy to re-design the recruitment process for postal operative (sorting and delivery) staff.

Giving examples of programmes that An Post has introduced to assist female employees with career progression, Ms Nash pointed to the success of the Aspire Female Talent Acceleration programme.

“Our Aspire programme, which was introduced to develop and strengthen our female talent pipeline, supporting them to progress in their careers, has had a powerful multiplier effect across the business, as women share their stories of having increased confidence and taking on new opportunities.

“We are now seeing more and more colleagues contacting our learning and development team or having open conversations with their line managers about the development options available to them and how we can support their careers at An Post.

“Feedback from our survey of participants on the programme pointed to 89% of participants being more confident in their role as a result of their participation in the Aspire Programme; 30% were considerably more confident, and 59% slightly more confident. Sixty-seven per cent (67%) spoke with their line manager about getting involved or volunteering in work/projects which are outside the scope of their day-to-day responsibilities, while 37% applied for internal vacancies. These are very positive results,” Ms Nash stated.

Commenting on the value of a briefing of this nature, Shannon Chamber chief executive said: “The purpose of the HR Forum is to assist senior HR practitioners and HR directors who are tasked with leading out on HR strategy within their organisations, explore emerging HR and sectoral trends and identifying strategic HR challenges within their organisation.

“Gender Pay Gap reporting is proving challenging for some companies so we felt it would be beneficial to address the concerns and to hear from a company that has got it right. Both presentations were informative and extremely beneficial. An Post is an exemplar organisation in this space, and it is a bonus to hear from a company that understands and is addressing gender pay gap issues,” Ms Downes added.

The Shannon Chamber HR Forum, which is chaired by Erin Hooban, Group HR manager with Enva, meets quarterly.