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IWD: Shared parental leave to plug the gender pay gap

Shared parental leave / iStock-153148996

With gender equality dominating headlines, a topical question for the property industry and businesses more generally is, “what steps can we take to close our gender pay gap?”, writes Chrysta Poppitt.

It is clear that the take-up on government gender pay gap reporting, which requires companies with over 250 employees to report on their gender pay and bonus information by April 2018, has been low to date.

As an employee owned company, Turley feels we are more accountable to our co-owners (employees) and that we experience and expect higher levels of engagement. While we do not currently employ over 250 people, we are embracing the government’s gender pay gap initiative and have reported our figures internally as a means of promoting equality, gender diversity and transparency within our company.

As part of our approach to inclusion and diversity we have enhanced our shared parental pay and maternity pay at an equal rate. This means that male co-owners can take parental leave at the same rate as our maternity pay, regardless of where their partner works.   

Our research has shown that only one large multi-disciplinary company in our industry has taken this step, yet it is common practice in other professional services companies. The property industry really should follow suit.

Speaking about the introduction of shared parental benefits at Turley, Peter Rowe, associate director said: “I am delighted that Turley has taken a progressive step to challenge the norm and introduce an enhanced parental leave package for its working parents. This will give men equal access to extended parental leave and contribute positively to reducing the gender pay gap.”

Setting clear aims to progress more women into senior positions is recognised as a helpful and tangible way to demonstrate advancement and reduce the pay gap.

However, progression should always be based on merit and not viewed as quota-filling or tokenism, which is not helpful for men or women.

It is encouraging to see more women applying for planning roles within our industry. We must work harder and smarter to retain this talent by being more flexible, providing mentoring opportunities and offering parental transition coaching. Furthermore, profiling more senior women role models and working closely with groups such as Real Estate Balance, makes our industry more attractive and more reflective of the places and communities we are all working to shape for the long term.

More companies within the property industry should consider enhancing shared parental leave pay in order to provide a more equal grounding for couples making career choices after the decision to have children. This would be a progressive step and will play a vital role in efforts to shrink the gender pay gap and ultimately help to progress more women into senior positions within the industry.

More companies, large and small, should set out a plan to close their gender pay gap. But, this should not be about size, but simply because it is the right thing to do.

Chrysta Poppitt is senior director, HR, at Turley

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