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Employee Services Forum 2018 Digest

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The start of the story

This year’s key takeaway at Equiniti’s Employee Services Forum was the importance of telling a compelling, cohesive corporate narrative – for shareholders, employees, investors, customers and the media. 

It all started with the requirement to report on the Gender Pay Gap. When viewed on its own, the gap is often stark and requires context. With further reporting requirements due to be introduced and increased scrutiny from initiatives such as the Public Register, companies are now looking at expanding how they tell their company story in full.

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On 11 September 2018, in the historic Capability Brown-designed grounds of Luton Hoo, this year’s conference featured big picture discussions on Executive Remuneration, Corporate Governance reform, technology trends and Brexit. We delved deep into the details of international share plans and the latest LTIP rules.

This article outlines five topics from the day, both for people who couldn’t make it and for attendees to share with colleagues. For more on each area, the slides are available by following the links in this article, looking on the EQ Events app, or emailing to request a copy.

1. Executive Remuneration and Corporate Governance Reform: Driven by purpose

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While CEO pay stayed broadly in line with overall pay increases of between 1 and 3%, senior pay is far from off the business agenda. Shareholdings and shareholder reactions will continue to be a focus for the year – thanks to new requirements and the ongoing threat of public revolts.

  • 18 FTSE 100 companies were named this year on the Investment Association’s Public Register.
  • 82% of attendees believe, when making pay decisions, they should ideally avoid the register but will do the right thing first and foremost.

Ahead of the regulatory requirement, 11% of delegates voting at the Forum revealed that their company will disclose an indicative CEO pay ratio in their 2018 annual report and accounts, with a further 56% potentially following suit. This is all part of the trend for further transparency and providing a complete picture of the unique landscape in which each business operates. It’s not about benchmarking against others in the industry but telling the story of your own organisation.

When it comes to Corporate Governance reform and the new code, the advice from the panel was unanimous: be an early adopter and take the opportunity to explain how decisions link to your culture, values and strategy and how you plan to address any issues. Purpose-driven organisations will be the ones that manage to not only follow the letter of the law but meet the spirit of the regulations too.

For more:

2. Technology: Will your role be automated away?


The fourth industrial revolution is here and, over time, our life and work will be far more automated than today. A fifth (22%) of delegates believe automated technologies will change their role a lot in the next 5 years, while nearly two thirds (63%) think it will have a smaller impact. 

Despite a slow and ongoing takeover, it will be people who control how tech develops and we don’t need to worry that we’ll be replaced by robots, according to Equiniti’s Andy Edler. Instead, technology will allow us to focus on empathy, persuasion and verbal comprehension, while AI takes care of repetitive tasks such as address changes, reconciliation and extracting information from legal documents.

3. Diversity: The Gender save gap

Gender pay gap reporting is here and nearly every business hit the deadline. The average gender pay gap is 9.7%, but would the financial inequality be wider if it took into account the savings gap too? Research shows women contributed 29% less than men on average each month to SAYE schemes in 2017.

4. Share plans: Navigating the complexities 

For increasingly international workforces, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to share plans. But there are learnings to be taken from how other companies have ensured they create plans – and communicate them effectively – to engage and retain employees from across the world.

5. Brexit: On a cliff edge


Do you think the UK and the EU will reach an agreement on withdrawal in time for the 29 March 2019 deadline? The majority (60%) of delegates stated that they believe there will be no deal, and yet 72% are well on their way to being Brexit-ready. The areas where there are still concerns include financial passporting and share dematerialisation.

Action list

  1. With a view to the long-term, develop a purpose-driven, corporate story taking into account the nuances of your business and the industry context.
  2. Consider how your business could create efficiencies with AI and automation.
  3. Look into the full pay picture for your staff, for instance reviewing your gender savings gap. Address any pockets of non-participation.
  4. Review if there are learnings from how other businesses ensure their share plans are right for their employees.
  5. Be ready for all Brexit outcomes.