Addressing our gender pay gap at Macmillan

Published: 02 April 2024
Macmillan’s Director of HR, Jane Sey, talks about the lessons we’re learning as we work to understand and address our pay gaps.
Photograph of Macmillan's HR Director, Jane Sey. She is looking at the camera and wearing a green t-shirt with the Macmillan logo on it.

Jane Sey Director of HR at Macmillan Cancer Support

Understanding our pay gaps

As we look to the future and focus our efforts to have the greatest impact for people living with cancer, we are also asking ourselves questions about the sort of organisation we need to become. How can we ensure that we are more representative of the people we are here to support? How can we build a culture where all our colleagues feel valued and can deliver the best work of their career?  As we transform, we have a unique opportunity to address the barriers, like pay disparity, that stand in the way of us nurturing a dynamic and inclusive team that is greater than the sum of its parts. In fact, I believe that we have to do this if we are to realise the best possible impact for people with cancer.   

As we publish our Gender Pay Gap Report 2023, which highlights both positive and negative changes since our last report, I am reminding myself that progress isn’t always linear. Our median gender pay gap has decreased, but our mean gap has increased. And while we are only legally required to report on our gender pay gap, pay disparities can play out in other ways - and we’re also starting to build our understanding of our Disability, Ethnicity and sexuality pay gaps and making steady progress in starting to understand the bigger pay picture. 

I have been reflecting on the actions we have taken so far and we have learnt some critical lessons that we are applying to ensure that everyone working at Macmillan is rewarded for their hard work in a consistent way. 

We need to look at our data more closely, and more often

One of the biggest setbacks of annual pay reporting is that the data is based on one moment in time. We want to consider how we actively correct pay gaps every time we employ a new colleague, or review someone’s salary. So we have given all our leaders access to new pay gap dashboards that are updated monthly, so they can better understand pay disparities in their area in real time and use this to inform the recruitment and pay decisions that they and their teams are making. 

If we want reliable data, we have to keep building trust in how we use it

As well as reporting on our gender pay gap, we have recently started to look at our Disability, Ethnicity and sexuality pay gap data. To do this, we rely on our colleagues choosing to share their personal information with us. This only comes with trust: that the information will be kept confidential, that sharing the information will make a difference, and that we will hold ourselves to account by updating colleagues on our progress.  

We have been making a conscious effort to make sure colleagues know and understand how we use this information, as well as how we’re using these insights to take action and build a more equitable Macmillan. Encouragingly, more and more of our colleagues are choosing to share their personal information with us - our analysis in 2022 was based on data from 75% of our colleagues, rising to 85% for our analysis in 2023.

We have more work to do to improve diversity in our leadership team

One of the biggest opportunities for us to address our pay gaps is to work towards becoming more representative of the UK population across all levels. For this reason, our Talent Acquisition team reviews every aspect of recruitment – from role profiles and job adverts, to the application process, interviews, making offers and negotiating pay – to ensure that the way we recruit is as accessible and as inclusive as possible. 

Some of the steps we have taken so far include training for hiring managers, introducing partially anonymised recruitment, and bringing different voices into interview panels to help challenge unconscious bias. We are trying to encourage as diverse a pool of candidates as possible to apply for our vacancies by publishing new roles on diversity job boards and working with networks. 

Salary negotiation poses one of the biggest risks – and also opportunities

Research shows that certain groups of people are more likely to negotiate salaries than others, which can increase pay disparities – especially for people who have experienced pay gaps throughout their careers and may come to negotiations with lower salary expectations than others. To address this, we have a consistent policy of including salary brackets for all new role vacancies, as well as clear criteria around where new starters should be placed on the scale depending on their skills and experience. This openness helps us to have more open conversations about salaries and ensure a more consistent approach across the organisation.  

Learning and development is key

Ultimately, our pay gaps reflect a range of causes. While we can’t tackle the external factors, like market conditions, we’re focusing our efforts on addressing the things we can control. Pay gaps are created by people making recruitment decisions and we’re working to equip our people managers to be consistent and fair. We have introduced compulsory inclusive recruitment training, and support hiring managers through the recruitment process. Our Talent Acquisition Team offers advice to ensure that hiring managers are mindful of salaries across their teams, and that they are equipped to facilitate salary negotiation. 

Additionally, to help nurture a culture of psychological safety within Macmillan we delivered anti-oppression training in 2023. We worked with Fearless Futures - a workplace equity organisation - to deliver an equality and fairness education programme for all colleagues, including additional training for people managers. 

Our commitment to making progress

As Director of HR at Macmillan, I am committed to addressing our pay gaps and while we have robust action plans in place, it is clear that we still have a way to go. Any difference in pay based on someone’s characteristics or background is unacceptable, and an obstacle that we need to work together as an organisation to overcome.