Youthtown - A Rising Star in Equal Pay

Youthtown Equal Pay Award Winner

Not for profits attract talent for a plethora of reasons, not least the chance to work-for-a-cause and be part of an environment that seeks to make a meaningful difference to the world we live in. But community-based youth organisation, Youthtown, has set-out to deliver even more to its staff of 300 employees, making workplace fairness and equity a core focus for the organisation.

As a result, they were recent winners at last year’s YWCA Equal Pay Awards, picking up Silver, for their remarkable efforts to address their own gender pay gap and implement equal pay across the board. Judges described Youthtown as, ‘a rising star in the equal pay space’ and were unanimous in concluding Youthtown’s entry was inspirational, emphasising the impressive achievements of this not-for-profit versus the resources and infrastructure of larger corporates that have typically entered the Awards since they began back in 2014.

This year, the YWCA Equal Pay Awards marks its fourth campaign by inviting Jannine Mullany, Youthtown’s General Manager of People and Performance, to share their own equal pay story and case study. The Awards aim to position winners as thought leaders, adding to the growing community of influential voices leading the change debate for equal pay.

How did Youthtown’s equal pay journey begin?
Our journey at Youthtown really started when the CEO, Paula Kearns and myself attended the YWCA Equal Pay Awards seminar, “Lifting the Lid on Equal Pay”. Mai Chen spoke about the gender pay gap in New Zealand as well as the issue of superdiversity and the ‘double disadvantage’ people experience when gender intersects with race.

The seminar got us thinking seriously about whether Youthtown had a gender pay gap and about the issue of unconscious bias within our organisation.

Fairness has always been a priority at Youthtown. To us, building a fair and equitable work culture is just what we do. We are very proud of our staff and are committed to treating each and every staff member fairly.

One of our strategic goals at Youthtown is to Attract, Inspire and Develop Exceptional People and we recognise that the way in which we approach fairness, diversity and inclusion is critical to achieving our goal.

Therefore, it made perfect sense to commit to undertaking an equal pay audit in order to understand our own equal pay status. We discovered an overall pay differential of 3.1% that we had not been aware of, prompting us to take action.

We then set about reviewing our systems and processes. This included how we recruit, how we pay, how we recognise and reward our staff, how we develop our staff and how we manage our talent. We also introduced new policies and processes to further ensure that we pay our people fairly, while ensuring that we do not in any way restrict the employment and development opportunities for staff with family responsibilities.

Based on your own experience, describe a stepped process a business could follow to address equal pay within their organisation?
First of all, explain it. Explain to the leadership team what equal pay really means, expel the myths and you’re on your way. Commit to a culture of fairness that extends to pay.

Secondly, do an equal pay audit. Crunch the numbers and understand your own equal pay status.

Thirdly, work to fix it. Start simple – you can start monitoring the starting salaries of all new hires from today. Remedy any pay equity issues one by one.

As business leaders and human resources professionals, we have a choice. We can either wait for the gender pay gap to close over the next 80 years, or work within our own organisations to make sure we have policies and procedures that are fair and equitable for all employees.

What would you say to an organisation that fears the cost implication of addressing equal pay?
We would say that addressing equal pay is not just the right thing to do; it is also good for business. It’s not costly to implement simple and innovative initiatives which support equal pay such as flexible workplace practices, return to work programmes (following parental leave), remote working policies and reward and recognition systems. These initiatives benefit all staff and the organisation as a whole.

What value has addressing equal pay put back into your organisation?
At Youthtown we have found that prioritising fairness - including fair pay for all - has brought significant benefits to our organisation. Staff feel more valued, their trust in the organisation is deepened and in turn are more engaged in their roles.

It’s not only staff engagement that has benefited. We are developing a reputation as a great place to work. We have noticed a bigger and better talent pool, which reflects in our programme quality as well as our relationships with external stakeholders.

Source: YWCA Equal Pay Awards