Hachette calls on rivals to disclose 'transparent' gender pay gap numbers

Hachette calls on rivals to disclose 'transparent' gender pay gap numbers

Hachette UK has called on all the major publishers "to be transparent" when reporting their gender pay gaps next April, specifically by disclosing numbers with and without their distribution arms included. Reporting its own results four months ahead of the deadline, Hachette said there had been improvements in its median figures, but admitted that some of the numbers were “stark and nowhere near where we would want them to be”.

As it did earlier this year, Hachette released two sets of figures, one for HUK Ltd (the legal entity, which notably excludes Hachette Distribution, Bookpoint and LBS, as well as Bookouture, Little, Brown, Octopus, Orion, Quercus), and a group figure for HUK Group, which includes all of its publishing units and distribution functions.

Based on data at 5th April 2018, just two weeks on from the publication of its first report, 2018's results for HUK Ltd reveal a mean gap of 30.4% (vs 29.7% on 5th April 2017) and a median gap of 20.1% (vs 24.7% on 5th April 2017). In relation to bonuses in 2018, which are affected by the proportion of part-time workers who are women (89%) and the seniority of roles taken up by men when compared with women, at HUK Ltd the mean bonus gender pay gap is 71.9% (2017: 79.6%) and median bonus gender pay gap 28.5% (2017: 38.5%, this latter figure having been restated from the number released earlier this year).

The more holistic results for the whole Hachette Group (which take into account the aforementioned divisions left out for HUK Ltd, including distribution, as well as the group's newly acquired companies Jessica Kingsley, Summersdale and Kyle Cathie) show the company in a better light, reporting a mean gender pay gap of 17.8% (vs 14.2% last year) and median gap of -0.6% (vs -1.3% last year). The whole group bonus mean showed a 62.2% gap (2017: 67.1%) and the median average -0.8% (2017: 1.6%).

In an email to staff, chief executive David Shelley noted improvements in the median but conceded that the results for HUK Ltd (the legal entity) were, "as before ... stark and nowhere near where we would want them to be". However, whilst recognising there is "still much to do", he said the company had made "significant progress" since the figures were struck and that this ought to reflect in the next gender pay gap report. "None of this is an overnight fix but I want you to feel we are doing the maximum we can do in order to address it," he said.

Following consultation with the Gender Balance Network at Hachette, key initiatives the company is implementing include: in the area of pay, the introduction of visible pay bands; a committment to advertise jobs with pay band/salary ranges stated; a formal process for requesting pay rises, plus a specific section in performance reviews for this, the intention being to "rule out favouritism for those who are 'brave' enough to bring it up"; in the area of flexible working, a committment to "be open to all requests for flexible working, not only those prompted by caring responsibilities"; and, in support of working parents and carers, the option for shared parental leave and phased returns to work; as well as career planning before leave is taken and on return. "Blind recruitment", as part of which candidates' names are removed, has also been soft-launched.

Another help will be the appointment of its new HR director, Melanie Tansey, to Hachette UK's board and executive committee next year. On 5th April 2018, of the 11 members on the Hachette UK main board, four were women and seven men; from January 2019, it will comprise five women and six men. This year its six-strong executive committee comprises one woman and five men; next year there will be two women and five men.

Not to be confused with the issue of equal pay for equal work (non-compliance with which is illegal), earlier this year all companies of 250 staff or more were legally compelled to produce a "snapshot" of what their gender pay gap was a year prior on 5th April 2017. The majority of trade publishers who had to report on their gender pay gaps did not come out of the exercise well, with the figures generally suggesting that, despite employing far more women than men, on average publishing houses were employing men in more senior, higher paying positions.

When comparing different publishing houses' performance in this area, difficulties however arose because companies only had to file results for eligible legal entities - meaning some companies included their distribution arms in their figures, for example Penguin Random House UK, while others did not, like Hachette Ltd. This is important to acknowledge, Hachette UK has argued, because there are typically more men in lower paid roles in these departments, which in turn impacts the overall averages that companies report making them hard to compare fairly.

By reporting in a more like-for-like way, it would be easier to tackle the pay gap together as an industry, the publisher reasoned.

A Hachette spokesperson commented: "There is a long way to go to equalise the gap for the publishing divisions, but we feel very determined to do so and have a number of measures in place to tackle it, including transparent pay ranges for the majority of the company, shared parental leave and a focus on flexible working for all. We recognise that pay gaps can be even more extreme for groups such as women of colour, and for this reason we take an intersectional approach with our actions and in all our diversity and inclusion initiatives in order to address it."

Calling for publishers to report similarly, by also providing figures for their operations excluding distribution functions, the spokesperson continued: "The gender pay gap is an important moral and business issue and, in order to give a clear picture across our business, we announce our results including and excluding distribution and internally by publishing division and function.

"We call on all major publishers to be transparent and to release their results including and excluding distribution so that we can tackle this pay gap together an industry."

By law, all companies with 250 or more staff have to file their gender pay gap figures relating to the snapshot date of 5th April 2018 by 4th April 2019.