Emma Newlands talks to Angela Williams, the new chair of Curo Compensation, about her role and the firm’s move to help report and tackle discrepancies.
The gender pay gap (GPG) continues to make the headlines, with Royal Bank of Scotland last week admitting that its is 37.2 per cent on average, a level chief Ross McEwan said is “not where we want it to be”. It followed shock over news that female staff at Barclays’ global business earn 48 per cent less than their male colleagues on average.
Helping firms identify and tackle their own discrepancies is a key aim of Curo Compensation, a specialist in total compensation management technology.
The firm has launched a service designed to enable firms to comply with the imminent and mandatory legal requirement for gender pay reporting in the UK. All organisations with 250 employees or more must report on their gender pay gap annually, with the first deadline 5 April this year for businesses and charities.
Curo’s newly-appointed non-executive chair Angela Williams says the product, known as CuroGPG, is a chance for firms to not only report on their GPG, but also access ways to address it. They can identify variables to influence, helping “support the growth of their female population, or in some cases, the growth of their male population – but most of the time, to be fair, it’s the female population”, she says, noting many underlying issues.
“Women may say, ‘Actually, I’m quite happy to stay where I am for now’, but it’s more around how do you manage your talent longer-term to make sure that you have a diverse workforce and women are given the same opportunity as men to progress and are rewarded equally for it.”
She also says Curo’s new tool “enables us to have the discussion as reward professionals but also as diversity professionals to say to businesses, ‘have you had the conversation with the women in your business, what are their drivers and how do you make sure you play to their strengths and give them the right opportunities?’ So it helps the conversation.”
Williams says she was brought onto the Curo board about a year ago for her skills in talking to HR directors and C-level executives and was then invited to take on the chair role with the gender pay aspect of the firm proving a key draw.
Curo chief executive Gerry O’Neill welcomed her appointment at the firm, which has a presence in Edinburgh, London and the US, at a “pivotal” period in its development. He added that it is “uniquely placed to exploit the massive opportunities that rapid changes in the global reward and compensation sector are creating”.
Williams trained as a teacher but a graduate scheme with oil and gas giant ExxonMobil enabled her to work across various departments including distribution and HR. It was the latter that proved the most appealing.
“I loved it because the HR/people activity touches every part of an organisation. It just fascinates me how to partner with a chief executive or with a board or with a non-exec board to really grow people, because people genuinely are the strongest asset that a business can have.”
She is group people director at the Consumers’ Association/Which?, while previous roles include group HR director for Sodexo, people and governance director for British Gas and group HR director for Land Securities Group.
She is also a non-executive director and chair of the remuneration committee with Sovereign Housing and is a fellow of organisations including HR and people development body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the Institute of Directors. And she has won awards for work on diversity and inclusion, and change and transformation.
Noting that for most firms the staffing bill is the highest part of its cost base, she also asks: “How do you deliver success for the business and how do you get all your people engaged in delivering for that business?”
Williams was also instrumental in bringing Maven Capital Partners into Curo, with the news in December that the Glasgow-based private equity house was leading investment of nearly £2 million into the fintech company.
Maven was injecting development capital of £1.2m into Curo with the rest of the £1.8m total coming from the recipient’s existing investors Downing and the Scottish Investment Bank.
Williams said the capital enabled the launch of CuroGPG while it will also help the company, whose technology is used to manage compensation reviews for more than 200,000 employees in 140 countries, to grow into Asia and the US. Plans are also afoot for a new product targeted at smaller firms.
“I’d love to grow the business to be three, four, five, six times the size, but actually it’s more about supporting a broader range of employers,” says Williams.