With International Women’s Day this week I want to share my thoughts on why gender pay equity is so important

A few years ago, companies across the UK and Europe were tasked with a priority – increase female representation at Executive and Board levels. This was because a huge talent gap was emerging, as women dropped out of the workforce and did not regain their status. When I joined Target two years ago, it reflected this trend, with female colleagues being underrepresented at senior leader level and upwards. I knew this needed to change and I’m pleased to say we’re making great progress.

Firstly, let’s explore why gender pay equity is still an issue

A big contributor is that most of the time, women are still the primary care givers. Sacrificing careers to raise children or taking care of elderly relatives. This makes part-time working or taking a lower paid, less demanding role more common; penalising pay packets at the same time, often in what should be peak earning years.

Secondly, another contributing factor is the menopause. According to UK Parliamentary committees “Almost a million women in the UK have left jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms. With menopause mainly affecting those in their late 40s and early 50s, this leads to women eligible for senior management roles leaving work at the peak of their career, with knock-on effects on workplace productivity, the gender pay-gap, and the gender pension gap”.

So, why is Diversity and Inclusion so important to me?

Besides from the obvious economic reasons. I truly believe gender pay equity drives a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Where colleagues from all backgrounds feel valued and respected, without exception. It’s important we’re representative of the customers and communities we serve. It’s well known that a diverse environment fosters increased innovation and creativity as well as higher job satisfaction and retention.

Also, having a daughter myself, I’d like to create a world where if she wants to succeed, in any profession, she is not held back, least of all by gender.

How can we do more?

At Target, we’re looking at ways to help address the issue head on. First of all, we’re working hard to ensure our pay gap keeps falling. Last year we reduced it by 8%, to 22.73%. Considering the sectors, we work in – financial services (30% pay gap) and banking (35%), we’re making good progress. However, I fully appreciate that it’s still too high. As CEO, I’m committed to reducing that gap to zero by 2026 and ensure equal gender representation across all levels of our business.

Our Women in Target Committee is actively looking at ways we can make a difference. Everything from remote to flexible working, external qualifications, education and training, Carers and Menopause policies, even trialling the four-day week. Nothing is off the table.

Our four-day week trial was actually launched this week. A trial of more than 50 colleagues are testing how we make it work, working fewer hours, without a reduction in pay.  There’s lots of talk about the four-day week being a great step forward for gender equality. I certainly hope that is the case with our trial. Ultimately, our main objective here is to improve retention, mental wellbeing, and productivity for all.

The pandemic has changed how we operate – mainly, that working patterns have changed irrevocably. Therefore, if employees can be more productive in four days than five, then why not implement this, if ultimately, performance improves. I want what’s best for my colleagues, and if this means an added degree of flexibility, then we owe it to them to give it a go.  

Our trial runs for six months and I look forward to sharing our findings with you.


An invisible cohort: Why are workplaces failing women going through menopause? - Committees - UK Parliament

Gender Pay Gap Report 2022

Read about our goal to close the Gender Pay Gap by the end of 2025.