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Creating equality at work from play to pay

GapSquare CEO Dr. Zara Nanu explains why the gender pay gap exists and how to fix it

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GapSquare CEO Dr. Zara Nanu believes it will take society 200 years to achieve pay parity between men and women.

In a talk at the HR Summit earlier this year, Dr. Nanu acknowledged the problem of pay scale disparity is systemic, but reminded listeners that progress is being made.

"Usually pay gaps are more exposing issues about the organization"

"The progress we've been talking about today, and we've been making with tech, has accelerated significantly over the past 20 years or so. But at the same time, we should remember that only 100 years ago, women needed the permission of their husbands to go to work," she said.

Nanu added that nearly seven years ago, the UK government implemented legislation requiring businesses with 250 or more staffers to report on gender pay gaps annually. Those reports have helped shed light not just on the gender pay gap broadly, but on how it differs in gaming specifically.

She continued, "Usually pay gaps are more exposing issues about the organization. It's exposing issues about men and women in leadership roles. It's exposing issues about men and women in different occupations. It's highlighting career progression and things like that. Pay gaps are about the organization, not the person; equal pay is about the person.

"Does the person doing work of equal value get paid the same across the organization? The equal pay agenda is really interesting because it's constantly evolving."

She described fair pay as something with multiple definitions.

"It's about transparency. It's about average gaps, it's about equal pay, it's about pay equity, but also it's about how fairly are people being paid within the region that they live," Nanu explained.

"How does this compare to the cost of living that is going up and up?"

"Does this meet their minimum living standard? Is this a fair wage? Is this a living wage? How does this compare to the cost of living that is going up and up?"

Nanu noted that the pay gap in the UK games industry is 17% higher than the national average.

She brought up the lawsuits and allegations against Niantic, Riot Games, and Activision Blizzard to highlight the importance of pay transparency for gendered discrimination.

Nanu said, "It's important to highlight these examples because they tell why it would be [a long time] before the gender pay gap closes. It's that slow progress we're making that is leading to the target of closing pay gaps and creating more equality at work, moving further and further away.

"There's good news – and I've been working in the good news space for the past eight years – and that's the good news that technology and tech can help take more targeted decisions and get to the heart of the problem."

A slide with methods to help close the gender pay gap

Nanu explained that there are some ways in which pay disparity can be curbed and flattened. One of those methods is the use of data and analytics.

"Data and analytics can provide more insights and take more targeted action. I know in the UK, we're getting very used to those averages, and we are understanding what the mean gender pay gap is and what the median gender pay gap is. But you can't treat all the patients in the hospital judging by the average temperature you have in that [building]. You need to drill down into your data and understand the key insights that can help create more focus around where actions should take place."

Nanu added, "Data holds the key to helping understand where more targeted action can help leverage results."

"Data holds the key to helping understand where more targeted action can help leverage results"

The Gap Square CEO also explained that data and analytics can present opportunities to revisit a company's code of conduct, recruitment strategies, and bonus structures.

Another method Nanu mentioned to close the pay gap is open communication.

"We did a survey earlier this year with our executive network and interviewed 1,000 senior human resources and HR managers around the world, and those managers were telling us they take pay equity seriously and they do pay transparency," she explained.

"But when we interviewed the employees of the same companies, they thought their company doesn't do pay equity and transparency. So, there is a gap in terms of communication."

She explained, "Most of the organizations in the UK have pay gaps. It's ok to have pay gaps as long as you understand why they're there, how they can be narrowed, and how you communicate them to employees."

Nanu emphasized how important it was for leadership to be inclusive.

"Leadership is an opportunity for us to build a fairer future work," she said. "Now, we understand the data; we understand the impact; we understand the positive impact of involving the more diverse community in our workplaces, and inclusive leadership can help us move towards that more fair future of work."

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Jeffrey Rousseau avatar
Jeffrey Rousseau: Jeffrey joined in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.
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