April 09, 2018

Study Examines Gender Pay Disparity for British Ombuds

Researcher and ADR expert Margaret Doyle has published the results of a study examining the relative pay for women and men working as Ombuds and complaint handlers in Britain. The compensation data came the four different Classical Ombuds programs in the UK: the Legal Ombudsman; Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman; Financial Ombudsman Service; and Ombudsman Services. Doyle found there were some gender pay differences, though smaller than national averages.

She concluded:
Although it’s difficult to reach any robust conclusions from the data, it appears that ombuds’ report cards generally look better than average in terms of pay discrepancy. All except the PHSO had a median pay gap lower than the average reported figure of 9.7%, and the Legal Ombudsman has no median pay gap. Representation of women at the higher-paid levels in all these ombud services is promising. Nevertheless, it is disappointing that all have a gender pay gap, at least in terms of mean average, suggesting work to do to achieve gender equality. It will be interesting to see how they respond.
The problem – and it should be recognised as a problem, even if the averages among ombuds are at or below the national average – needs to be addressed organisationally and individually and requires leadership. At an individual level, training in unconscious bias can help address the pernicious prejudices that we all have and that can manifest themselves in recruitment and promotion decisions. Organisationally, it is important to identify the factors leading to the gap and to review approaches to recruitment, retention, promotion, job grading, and coaching opportunities.
A shared commitment among ombuds to eliminating the gender pay gap would be a great start.
The International Ombudsman Association also collects compensation data for Organizational Ombuds, but has not analyzed gender differences. Perhaps this would be a relevant analysis for IOA to consider. (OmbudsResearch.)

Related post: Blog Post Explores Use of 'Ombudsman' in UKInternational Ombudsman Association Releases 2015 Compensation ReportLandmark Study Compares University Ombuds Internationally.

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