So you’ve measured your gender pay gap (correctly I hope!) but you don’t know what to do next?
You are not alone, many employers are still getting their heads around how to interpret their pay gaps and are struggling to work out what it means for them. One outcome is that many consultants are out there waiting to advise you and among them are statisticians like me. But what exactly is it that statisticians bring to the party compared to other consultants? One answer is that statisticians use DMAIC to help organisations improve the quality of their products, services and processes.
What is DMAIC?
- DEFINE the goal to be achieved
- MEASURE the problem so you know where you are today compared to your goal
- ANALYSE the data so as identify where & why the problem exist and the relative importance of potential means to reduce the problem
- IMPROVE the process/product/service using an action plan built upon your analysis
- CONTROL, once the improvements has achieved the goal, monitor and control to prevent it from reoccuring.
DMAIC is used by many practitioners who seek to improve the quality of a business’s product, service, process or outcome. A gender pay gap can be regarded as a measure of the quality of an employer when it comes to diversity and therefore the full gamut of statistical tools and approaches can be applied to reducing and eliminating pay gaps. These tools and approaches come under a statistical heading of Quality Improvement.
The Quality Improvement Section
I am an active member of the Royal Statistical Society and until last year, I was the Chair of the Quality Improvement Section (QIS) which advises the RSS on statistical issues within this field and also organise events to improve the skills of its practitioners. This year, QIS produced a video explaining what the section does and I appear in this video (1 min 13 secs in) and talk about how employers can use DMAIC to close their gender pay gaps. Please do have a look to hear what I & my colleagues in QIS have to say!
What do Statisticians add to DMAIC?
Perhaps you might be saying to yourself, “DMAIC is obvious! Many consultants use something like that even if they use different words”. I don’t disagree with that sentiment but I would like to go through the 5 steps again and illustrate the advantages that statisticians have over other areas of expertise.
- DEFINE – It is an essential skill for any consultant to help their clients define their goals. With GPGs, the most obvious goal is elimination of a pay gap but in some circumstances, it may be better to simply aspire to reducing a pay gap. One difference that a statistician can bring is that we will have a better idea of what data is likely to be available and useful and therefore can anticipate issues ahead of the Measure step. Sometimes, this awareness allows us to better define your goal.
- MEASURE – This is clearly the bread and butter of a statistician, working out what to measure given a defined goal and what is the best way to take those measurements. Obviously the government has specified some standard measures but that doesn’t mean that you have to use them and a statistician should be well placed to advise on suitable alternatives.
- ANALYSE – Again this is bread and butter for a statistician, analysing the available data to identify where and why gender pay gaps exist. One of the big advantages that statisticians have over other consultants is that we are trained to interpret data collated from small sample sizes. With pay gaps, small sample sizes can arise with small employers, male or female dominated employers or with small categories of minorities such as ethnicity or disability. We all know that we have to be cautious with our interpretation of small samples and statisticians can tell you whether caution is needed or not.
- IMPROVE – This is the area where statisticians need to work with subject matter experts; we can’t do it on our own. Having identified the key causes of a gender pay gap, the next step is to work out how to eliminate those causes through changes in the employer’s practices in recruitment, promotion, pay & conditions. Other experts will have an idea of the available options but what we can bring to the party is twofold. First, we can identify which option is likely to be most effective assuming it works. Second, if there is uncertainty over the feasibility and effectiveness of an option, we can help the client to design an experiment to test & evaluate options. Design of Experiments is another core skill of statisticians that can be made available to you.
- CONTROL – There are two parts to Control that a statistician can advise on. The first is identifying which metrics need to be measured at regular intervals to ensure that a pay gap is not going to reoccur. This partly arises out of the Measure & Analyse phases but statisticians will also make use of a field of statistics known as SPC (Statistical Process Control). The second is advising the client on a suitable management system to ensure that the employer is able to act on such data, Whilst not strictly statistics, many statistical consultants who work in this field are experts in management systems as well.
Six Sigma and ISO18404
Finally have you heard of Six Sigma? If you have, you will know it is one of the approaches that makes use of DMAIC and is an area of statistics that QIS does pay attention to. Indeed, QIS oversees the RSS‘s processes to implement the ISO18404 Lean & Six Sigma standard. If you are a Lean or Six Sigma practitioner and would like to be accredited under this standard, then please click on this RSS link for more information. In addition, please speak to your employer’s HR department and help them to close your employer’s gender pay gap.
– Need help with interpreting your gender pay gap? –
I offer the following services.
- Analysis – I can dig deep into your data to identify the key drivers of your pay gaps. I can build a model using a large number of variables such as pay band, seniority, job function, location, etc and use this to identify the priority areas for closing your gaps.
- Training – I run training courses in basic statistics which are designed for non-statisticians such as people working in HR. The courses will show you how to perform the relevant calculations in Microsoft Excel, how to interpret what they mean for you and how to incorporate these in an action plan to close your gaps.
- Expert Witness – Has your gender pay gap data uncovered an issue resulting in legal action? Need an expert independent statistician who can testify whether the data supports or contradicts a claim of discrimination? I have experience of acting as an expert witness for either plaintiff or defendant and I know how to testify and explain complex data in simple language that can be easily understood by non-statisticians.
If you would like to have a no-obligation discussion about how I can help you, please do contact me.
– Want to know more about the gender pay gap? –
I have written a number of articles about the gender pay gap covering these topics:-
- What gender pay gap data tells us, what it doesn’t tell us and how it can be misused
- Three distinct errors that have been made by at least 10% of all organisations when submitting their gender pay gap data
- How to distinguish between a true pay gap and a pay gap that arises naturally due to the laws of chance
- My 12 steps to improve public confidence in gender pay gap data
- My evidence to the Treasury Select Committee on how gender pay gap reporting could be improved
- Calculate your gender pay gap by downloading my free spreadsheet calculator!
- Did the gender pay gap narrow in 2018?
- How to identify unusual year on year changes in gender pay gaps
- Frequently Asked Questions about gender pay gaps.
Finally visit my Twitter thread to see my comments on gender pay gaps in the media. Some notable ones are here.