LONDON —  Larger employers in Great Britain will have to report any gender pay gap by April 2018, causing some to worry about the damage the disclosure could have on corporate reputations. 

A survey, conducted by IPG firm Golin, of more than 1,000 senior professionals in the UK revealed 84% of respondents believe the issue will damage the reputation of organisations. Over three quarters (77%) said organisations will likely lose staff over the issues, while 73% believe the worst offenders will find it harder to recruit and 76.5% said they should be ‘named and shamed’ for their gender pay gap. More than one-third (36%) of respondents said they feel the issue is potentially more toxic than corporate tax avoidance.

By April 2018 every UK organisation that employs more than 250 people must report its gender pay gap. Currently the UK average is reported to be 18% but some industries, such as banking are expected to report significantly higher gap between men and women's earnings. 

“Organisations shouldn’t hide from this issue, or put it off hoping to get lost in the crowds reporting ahead of the April deadline," said Bibi Hilton, MD of Golin. "They should establish what their gap is as soon as possible and ensure they know how and why it has come about. Armed with that information they can plan to put it right and communicated what they are doing, to the public, employees and media."

The Holmes Report recently unearthed a pay gap specific to PR industry within North America that showed a significant pay gap across gender and race. In the US, several companies — in particular in technology— have voluntary made a public commitment to erase gender pay gaps. In particular, Salesforce was among the first companies to do so and others like Apple, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft followed. 

“As well as indicating the earnings gap, the pay gap represents lost productivity, where the skills and potential of women in work are underused," said Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society. "So getting an organisation's response to pay gap reporting right will be good for women but also for the bottom line.” 

The survey was commissioned by Golin and carried out by research company Toluna who surveyed 1,002 senior professionals and business decision-makers in the UK.