Insights for Organisations Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Closing the Gender Pay Gap One Step at a Time

John Smith

An estimated USD 13 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2030 if the right steps are taken now to promote gender-parity improvements and bring more women back into the workforce. If there’s ever been a doubt about the merits of greater female representation in the workforce, this stat makes a solid case in its favour.

According to a report by Reuters, 54 million women’s jobs were eliminated as a result of the pandemic between 2019 and 2020. While some were forced to leave their jobs, others made a choice to leave to take on other life duties. However, over 76% of professional women now want to return to work after a career break. 

FDM has always championed the cause of bringing more women into the workforce – particularly in sectors like tech where they have been historically under-represented. From our best of breed Returners programme with a 75% female intake to our Apprenticeship programme that has 50% female apprentices to a series of initiatives like conferences, digital bootcamps, and tech skills workshops across our global centres – we provide an equal footing for women to launch their careers in competitive industries that recognise their skills.

In May 2022, a group of women enrolled on FDM’s new Tech Returners Programme. They came from different backgrounds and with diverse skills and experiences. Over the course of the next 14 weeks, they received instructor-led training in current and emerging technologies before being placed with leading financial services and tech companies.

FDM’s first all-female cohort of tech returners reflects our commitment to help women reintegrate into the workforce and achieve financial stability. Even internally, we have been consistent in our efforts to close the gender pay gap. Our work around gender equality is taking place on a global scale, with 31% of all our employees identifying as female.

Gender Pay Gap

The UK government defines gender pay gap as the difference in average hourly wage between men and women in an organisation. It explains that if more women are employed for less well-paid roles than men in a company, the pay gap will be bigger. Since 2017, businesses with over 250 employees are legally required to publish their gender pay gap report. Whilst the specific rules for reporting vary between the private and public sectors, all employers must publish:

According to 2022 UK government data, the gender pay gap across the UK is 14.9% in favour of all male employees. The report further states that, ‘the 90th percentile male employee (one who earns more than 90% of other male employees, but less than the other 10%) earns substantially more than the equivalent female employee. The difference in pay, expressed in gender pay gap terms, is 15.5% for full-time employees. This is much higher than the gap among median earners (8.3%) and the bottom 10% of earners (3.0%).’

In comparison, FDM is proud to announce a -4.3% median pay gap and a -5.2% median bonus pay gap for 2022. This means our median female employees fared better than their male peers. Further, 83.3% of our male employees received bonus pay as compared to 84.2% of females. Read our full 2022 Gender Pay Gap Report.

At FDM, our commitment to promote gender equality is most evident in our Returners Programme.

FDM Returners Programme

Over 370 people in the UK have restarted their careers on our Returners Programme, now in its 7th year. The programme is run by a team who were returners themselves and understand the unique challenges that women face when trying to get back to work after a career break. According to a study by PWC, three out of five women returning to the workforce will move to a lower skill role. A lower skill role immediately reduces their earnings by a third.

Haripriya Alluri joined the FDM Tech Returners programme in May 2022. She spoke of the challenges she faced trying to get back to work.

Haripriya Alluri

‘On my journey to get back to work, the first step I took was to update my CV on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive any calls. I also applied in various job portals but there were only a few calls. Even though I have proven experience in the IT Production Support roles, there was no consideration for women with career breaks. Few other calls expected technical knowledge equivalent to the peers who didn’t have any career gap, although as a Returner we still demonstrated strong basic understanding of concepts. But the FDM team had believed in us and built up our confidence, proving that we bring some value with our past experience.’

The aim of the Returners Programme is to create equal opportunities for women regardless of the duration of their break. Consultants on our Returners Programme typically have breaks ranging from one to ten years. We even have returners who joined FDM after a 19-year career break. We offer consultants full-time employment from day one of the programme – from specialist instructor-led training to placement with our prestigious clients.

Balancing Work and Home

According to a Fawcett Society Report published to mark Equal Pay Day on 20 November 2022, women on average took home £564 less per month than men this year. Also, 35% of women said they were prevented from working due to a lack of affordable childcare. The report includes a number of recommendations for the government to help more women join the workforce. Some of these include better Gender Pay Gap reporting, banning employers from asking salary history questions during interviews and providing affordable childcare options.

Karishma Charlwood, another consultant on our all-female cohort of Tech Returners mentioned the support she received from FDM whilst balancing her training with childcare.

Karishma Charlwood

‘The training schedule is structured in such a way that it starts a little later at 9:30am and finishes earlier at 4:30pm to allow that extra time to kick off the school day before sitting down to work. Furthermore, all the sessions were recorded… there is always an opportunity to catch up later.  

The trainers were also very considerate and made allowances for appointments, school drop off and pick up etc.’

Karishma further acknowledged that, ‘the 14 weeks of intense training has also been a good test to see how I can find ways to juggle my personal and family life with work and try to establish the right balance and boundaries.’

The pandemic has created a greater emphasis on hybrid and flexible working arrangements, which has made it easier for more women to return to work.

We have recently welcomed Ukrainian refugees and other displaced women onto the programme, providing ongoing and regular wellbeing check-ins.

Victoria Alimova was not your average returner. Yes, she had a career break to bring up her daughter. But she also had the added hurdle of navigating the job market in a foreign country as a refugee. Her journey is a truly inspiring one where FDM helped her refresh her skills and get back to work.

The FDM Commitment

At FDM, diversity runs in our DNA. We believe diversity drives business success. But true diversity can only be achieved when all employees regardless of their gender, race, abilities, sexuality, faith, nationality feel equally respected and valued for their work.

We have recently ranked 48th within the top 75 UK organisations dedicated to social mobility in The Social Mobility Foundation’s Employers Index for the fourth year running. The award is in recognition of our ongoing commitment to accelerating social mobility in tech and creating an inclusive environment for all.

Whilst we are rightly proud to have received the honour, we acknowledge that there is still a great deal more to do. We are continually working towards doing better – from our many support networks to our employee assistance programme – and are committed to closing the gender pay gap one step at a time.