Workforce Fairness: The view of the ‘People Panel’

Attitudes to business have changed in recent years and there is far greater expectation on organisations to think about their impact on communities and on how they address inequalities in the workforce – spanning for example the ratio between highest and lowest earners, or pay gaps between genders and beyond.

Many companies have been doing a lot of good work trying to address fairness in the workplace. It is a complex area – it means different things to different people. It is why, this year, PwC launched a new category within the Building Public Trust Awards called Workforce Fairness. The ‘Workforce Fairness in the FTSE 350 Award’ recognises those companies that report in an authentic and accessible way and how they think about their employees and wider community. There are some great examples of initiatives undertaken across the companies – from addressing diversity and gender pay gaps, through to raising skills and capabilities as we automate and restructure. More information will follow on this as we announce the winners in November.

As part of the judging process, it was crucial to understand the views of the public, and we did this through a focus group spanning a cross section of British society, referred to as the ‘People Panel’. The panel believed that the most apparent features of creating an effective and fair workplace included, diversity, teamwork and the availability of equal opportunities. They identified five key areas that were of interest when discussing the reporting in workforce fairness.

  1. Do they provide job security and have good grievance procedures in place?
  2. Do they provide details about how they are addressing the gender pay gap?
  3. Do they outline the measures they are taking to increase diversity in the workforce?
  4. Are there opportunities for staff? (E.g. training, promotion and rewards and recognition.)
  5. Do they provide benefits to staff? (E.g. support for health and wellbeing).

Overall, the panel were looking for a concise, clear, honest and comprehensive reporting style which enabled them to clearly understand company’s strengths. This has a real impact on reputation and increasingly on the ability to attract talent.

It is fair to say that initiatives associated with workforce fairness have improved significantly over the years and our research has shown companies are actively investing in their employees in areas such as wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, skills development and overall engagement. However, from the points highlighted by the People Panel alone, there is still work to be done in increasing fairness in the workplace, in which all organisations have a role, not only reduce associated reputational risks but also to positively contribute to wider change in workforce fairness.

The views of the People Panel were fed into the judging process of the Building Public Trust -Workforce Fairness reporting in the FTSE 350 Award. The winner will be announced on the 29th November. For more information, please visit our webpage.


Alastair Woods

Alastair Woods | Partner
Profile | Email | +44 (0) 7834 250 359

More articles by Alastair Woods