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Demystifying the gender pay gap

Neil Martin

The government’s new gender pay gap legislation has caused a great deal of confusion – not least in the media.

The regulations require all companies with more than 250 employees to report their gender pay gap measurement by April 2018.

However, this does not mean equal pay – something Lendlease does as a matter of course – but rather, the difference in the average earnings of all men and women collectively across a company, regardless of role or seniority.

Equal pay means that women and men are paid the same salary for doing the same role. Our challenge is there are significantly fewer women than men in the business – an industry-wide issue. As a result, our construction business has a gender pay gap measurement based on overall representation of 30 per cent, while the overall representation gap for our UK business is 19 per cent – is in line with the national average. We want to close that gap.

Positive steps

Reporting our gender pay gap measurement ahead of the April 2018 deadline is a positive step in that process. We believe that greater transparency and benchmarking is an important way to fast-track change. Not only that, we believe the requirements provide a focal point for the wider industry to come together and have a conversation about what we can do to change for the better.

To help level the playing field at Lendlease we have introduced flexible working, shared parental leave, a 50:50 male and female graduate intake and the insistence on recruitment shortlists including women. In the past 18 months we have increased senior female representation across the business from 24 per cent to 29 per cent and are now targeting 33 per cent.

Represent your customers

So why is this worthwhile? To achieve the best possible performance, companies need diverse thinking, experiences and backgrounds – this is where innovation comes from. Greater diversity also reflects our clients and customers, helping us to better represent and meet their needs.

“Now is the time to start talking about how to effect far-reaching, decisive change in the construction industry”

And while construction sites aren’t typically viewed as female-friendly environments, this needs to be – and is – changing for the better.

At Glasshouse Gardens, a Lendlease-developed residential scheme in Stratford, 10 per cent of our onsite construction team was female. Given that women have historically made up only 1 per cent of most site teams, this project shows that progress isn’t just a pipedream.

Now is the time to start talking about how to effect far-reaching, decisive change in the construction industry. This conversation will be helped enormously by recognising the fundamental difference between the gender pay gap and equal pay.

Neil Martin is managing director of Lendlease Construction Europe

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