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The Scottish Government and its partners are here to help you

If you have any questions about the Scottish Business Pledge, view our FAQs below.

Is the Pledge open to all businesses in Scotland?

Yes, absolutely. While we recognise that certain elements may be more relevant to some than others, we want all businesses to come on this journey with us.

Is the Pledge obligatory?

No, the Scottish Business Pledge is entirely voluntary – but we hope as many businesses as possible will recognise the benefits of making a Pledge.

Does it cost anything to make a commitment?

No, your submission is free to make.

Does a business have to sign up to the Scottish Business Pledge in order to get business support or bid for public procurement contracts?

No. However, the first five elements of the Scottish Business Pledge align to the Fair Work First approach the Scottish Government is taking to extend Fair Work criteria to as many funding streams, grants and public contracts, where appropriate, as it can.

Can I select which five additional Pledge elements I need to meet in order to make a Business Pledge?

Yes, the only core requirements for making your pledge are paying the real Living Wage, not using Zero Hour Contracts (unless it’s appropriate), and taking action to close the gender pay gap. You can choose any five – or more – of the remaining seven elements you wish in order to make your Scottish Business Pledge. We just ask that you to commit to achieving them over time.

Will I have to meet all the elements straight away?

To make your commitment you will already meet the three core elements: paying the real Living Wage, no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts and be taking steps to identify and reduce the Gender Pay Gap. After that, you will be expected to evidence you meet the full criteria for the other five you have chosen over time.

What happens if not all of the elements fit with my business strategy?

The Scottish Business Pledge has been specifically designed to recognise that meeting all elements takes time and companies will demonstrate within different timescales. What’s important is that all Pledge elements are embraced and that there is a commitment to make changes, even if they are long-term.

How can the Scottish Government support my Business Pledge?

The Scottish Government, and partners such as Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland, are keen to work with you and support you to sign up to the Pledge. We see the Scottish Business Pledge as the start or continuation of a conversation with you. Get in touch and we’ll work in partnership to devise how we can best do this.

How long will my submission take to be processed?

Your form will be reviewed within 5 working days when someone from the Business Pledge team will be in touch with you to confirm you meet the criteria or follow up on anything that is unclear.

Where can I find additional support to help my business deliver on the elements and agree a Business Pledge?

If you still can’t find the answer or want to reach out to one of our partner organisations with a more specific question, please use the form below.

Gender pay gap FAQs

What calculation do I use to measure the Gender Pay Gap in my small business (SME)?

Businesses should use the overall mean. This is calculated as the difference between all male (full time and part-time) and all female (full time and part-time) employees average hourly earnings. It is expressed as a percentage of male earnings, determined as follows:

where -
A is the mean hourly rate of pay of all male full-pay relevant employees; and
B is the mean hourly rate of pay of all female full-pay relevant employees.
This is one of the six calculations required of larger companies (over 250 employees) under the 2017 regulations. More details can be found here.

Does the calculation of the Gender Pay Gap include directors?

The calculation of a Gender Pay Gap should include all staff including managers, directors and senior officials.

We pay all our staff equally, why would we have a Gender Pay Gap?

Equal pay, is a legal requirement which means men and women must be paid the same for equal or similar work. The gender pay gap is different. It measures average pay between the men and the women across your whole workforce regardless of the type or level of work they do. It compares the pay of all staff from directors to cleaners and includes both full time and part time roles. While many businesses strive to pay their staff based on merit and regardless of gender, there can often be unconscious practices that inhibit a greater number of women applying for posts - and it is predominantly women who are impacted. Evidence suggests that in 2017/18 across the UK 77% of organisations reported a gender pay gap in favour of men rather than women. The causes of the Gender Pay Gap are complex so even if you pay your staff equally for similar work they do, on calculating your gender pay gap you may find that women are clustered in the lower paid roles within a business and the men in the higher paid, more senior roles. Or that higher numbers of women are employed in part-time work which is often paid less than full-time roles. Stereotyping and unconscious bias in recruitment and progression processes can also play a part. For example it may be assumed that women do not want or will not be able to accept promotion, especially if they have care commitments. As the causes are complex, it’s important that you understand the drivers of the gender pay gap in your business, in order to take the most effective action. You could complete the Think Business, Think Equality toolkit which would help you to assess any areas in which there is opportunity to improve workplace policies.

Do I need to produce an action plan now to enable my Pledge to be endorsed?

The Business Pledge Gender Pay Gap element calls for an action plan to be developed, but all we need to know at this point is that you have calculated your Gender Pay Gap, are in the process of identifying the potential causes of any gap and that you commit to developing an action plan within 12 months if you have 50-249 employees, and 18 months if you have fewer than 50. For larger businesses - 250+ employees - there is an existing statutory obligation to publish data on gender pay gap, so work should already be in progress. We have no plans at the moment to receive and review action plans but we will be regularly reviewing progress as the Business Pledge is about continuous improvement.

What if a business has no Gender Pay Gap because the staff are made up of either all men or all women?

This element relates to the gap between men and women’s overall pay within a business and it may not be possible to fully demonstrate that in businesses that have either 100% female employees or 100% male employees. We would be able to endorse your Business Pledge if your business is able to consider its workforce composition in relation to wider workforce diversity and how, in the future you can harness the benefits of greater diversity and flexibility. A commitment to develop a plan of steps your business can take to improve the gender balance in your organisation is expected to complete the criteria for this element. Examples include: actions to better understand the issues around any gap and what could help to secure an improved gender balance in your team. Seeking guidance on how you could encourage applications from women and girls in any future recruitment activity such as, considering where the vacancy is advertised, the language used and consideration of policies that work more flexibly for all your employees, not just women. Review your current policies and consider adopting policies that will help to attract more women applicants, and which may also benefit all workers. For example; an attractive maternity policy, parental leave, flexible working, carer policies, part-time opportunities. Use positive action initiatives such as creating women’s development programmes or women’s staff networks and make role models more visible. Other examples of actions you might take can be found within the details relating to the Invest in a Skilled and Diverse Workforce.

Our business employs only women, through genuine occupational requirement. How do we meet the gender pay gap element?

In the case of genuine occupational requirement, we would view the lack of gender balance as entirely justifiable. No further action would be necessary, however you may wish to consider looking at wider workforce diversity in order to ensure that you have addressed the additional barriers that women with additional protected characteristics may face.

Our gender pay gap is probably due to women working only in administrative roles in our business. Women don’t apply for the other roles. What can we do?

It’s often the case that women and men are clustered in different roles within an organisation. For example, women dominating administrative roles and men dominating senior manager roles. The roles and sectors that are male-dominated, are usually found to be the higher skilled and higher paid jobs, and although women may want to apply for these roles they may be put off by, for example: the male dominated environment; some of the working practices, such as unavailability of flexible working; lack of adequate maternity provision. Increasing numbers of women are studying and seeking employment in these traditionally male dominated sectors. To widen the pool of talent your business can access, guidance on how to encourage applications from women and girls in any future recruitment activity is available. There are organisations offering specialist advice and support, for example Equate Scotland works with employers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries to create more inclusive working environments, and can offer guidance on recruitment and retention.

The nature of our business means that we cannot offer flexible working. We understand this may create additional barriers for women but what can we do?

There are many different forms that flexible working can take. Guidance and support is available, including from Family Friendly Working Scotland who can work with you to identify the option that works for your business.

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