PRH 'disappointed' as gender pay gap widens

PRH 'disappointed' as gender pay gap widens

Penguin Random House has said it is “disappointed” after the company's gender pay gap widened by 2.1% over the past year, but insists new initiatives mean it is making long-term progress.

According to its latest pay gap report, the publisher's median pay gap for hourly pay, based on snapshot payroll data from April, rose from 3.2% last year to 5.3% in 2020. The mean gap was up from 9.1% to 13.3%.

PRH said, although disappointed by the results, recent changes have been made designed to have a long-term positive impact, including the launch of its equal parental leave policy, menopause policy (offering flexible working options to staff experiencing menopausal symptoms) and guide to gender transition at work.

Work is also under way to make its technology team more gender balanced by recruiting more women while PRH will also be publishing its first ever ethnicity pay gap report at the end of this month.

Director of human resources Val Garside said the increased pay gap was mainly down to changes in the levels of men and women in each pay quartile. The firm's 16-strong leadership team continues to have equal gender representation, while the its top 100 earners is made up of 49% women and 51% men. However, in its Publishing and Group departments, women outnumber men in lower quartiles, particularly entry-level roles, affecting the pay gap.

Garside said: “I do not believe that this shift – albeit disappointing – undermines our wider efforts to reduce the gap or our overall journey towards becoming a truly gender-neutral organisation. The factors affecting our pay gap are structural and relate to the shape of our organisation, which means there isn’t a quick or direct trajectory to reaching that goal. It also means that, in the short-term, internal changes such as individual senior hires can have a disproportionate impact on our data.”

In the upper pay bracket as a whole there was little change on last year with women making up 57.2% and men 42.8%. However, the lower middle quartile saw the proportion of women rise 3.3% to 78.2%, while in the lowest pay bracket, female representation nudged up 1.5% to 54.3%.

Elsewhere, the median bonus pay gap decreased from 10.1% to 3.7%, with a slight 0.9% fall in the mean figure to 34.5%.

The median figure is calculated by ranking all employees from highest to lowest-paid, and taking the hourly wage of the person in the middle, while the mean is the average hourly wage across the entire organisation.

Garside said: “In the coming months our HR and resourcing team will meet with each department to discuss the gender profile of their teams at each job level, prioritising those with the most significant gender imbalance, to identify ways in which each team can play their part in achieving more balanced gender representation. This in turn will support reducing the gender pay gap.”

In line with its company inclusion plan, the firm aims to, wherever possible, have at least one underrepresented candidate on interview shortlists. PRH also said it was on track to share transparent pay bands with colleagues in December 2020 and to include pay bands on all external job adverts from January 2021.

Breaking down the firm's two employing entities, figures show Random House Group median gender pay gap is now 0.9% compared to -2% last year, with the mean figure increasing to 11.8% from 7.6%. At Penguin Books Ltd and DK the median gender pay gap is up to 13.5% from 10.6%. The mean figure grew from 21.7% to 23.2%.

Garside said: “Our overriding ambition is to ensure that everyone working at Penguin Random House feels a strong sense of belonging. We believe that everyone should fulfil their potential, regardless of their identity or background, so building a progressive and inclusive workplace has never been more prominent in our thinking, planning and actions. This year we’ve refreshed and accelerated our overall inclusivity strategy, and will publish our first ethnicity pay gap report later this year.”