Closing the Gender Gap: 2 Steps to Get You Started
While social media and news coverage may make it seem as though the gender gap is a recent phenomenon, it really isn’t. Australia passed “equal pay for equal work” laws in 1969. The late Chinese leader chairman Mao Zedong strongly advocated equal pay for both genders, almost half a century ago.
The issue of the gender pay gap is far more complex than enforcing businesses to pay exactly the same wage for the exact same work. In Australia, it’s not just women at the higher end of the pay scale experiencing a pay disparity –in its complex awards system, women and men earning “minimum wage” rates can differ quite substantially, with sectors dominated by women valued at a lower minimum wage rate to those dominated by men. Even when educational levels are accounted for, professional women in India earn 20% less than their male peers.
Shamshad Akhtar of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) stated in a March 2017 report that – “Compared to their male counterparts, women are systematically paid less and are more likely to find themselves in vulnerable employment with low wages, no formal contracts or labour rights and minimal social protection. In 2015, the gender pay gap in the region as a whole reached an astounding 20 per cent. Furthermore, the percentage of women trapped in vulnerable employment [being informal work arrangements] remains worryingly high in Asia-Pacific – for instance, 78 per cent in South and South-West Asia, and 60 per cent in South-East Asia.”
In China, women on average earned 22 per cent less than men, although this figure is an improvement over the previous year’s gap of 30 per cent. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in Australia, “full-time working women earn a base salary that is about 18% less, and a total remuneration that is more than 22% less, than full-time working men.” The pay gap in New Zealand, meanwhile, is at a comparatively healthier 9.4 per cent.
2 Things That Can Be Done
1. Public Wage Information
Some organisations, like midsized marketing platform Buffer, started closing the gender pay gap by making all employee compensation information public.
With pay transparency, colleagues know what everyone earns. In their upcoming discussion with ADP, Buffer’s HR and Finance leaders will outline how their transparent pay policy and gender pay gap analysis helped them to uncover roles and decisions prone to bias and subjectivity.
2. Eliminate negotiation for everyone
In some instances, women are often given conflicting advice when attempting to increase their earnings, whether it is to “be more confident”, but not “too assertive”. Research in Australia showed that women do negotiate their salaries, but are refused more often than men.
Liz Davidson, founder of Financial Finesse, writes in Forbes magazine “If you genuinely seek to eliminate the gender pay gap and acknowledge that a diverse workforce is much more productive, successful and lucrative, then ceasing salary negotiations should be a cultural imperative.”
Eliminating negotiation and practicing pay transparency won’t solve everything. Affordable childcare, biases in hiring and promotion, networking difficulties and mentoring relationships are all contributing factors, as well. The two initiatives above, however, are a great place to start for organisations that want to be at the forefront of closing the gender gap.
If you haven’t read Part 1, click here to read it first.
Interested in hearing more about this topic? Join ADP as we talk to Courtney Seiter, Director of People, and Jenny Terry, Finance and Compliance Manager at Buffer, a company that instituted pay transparency for their entire company. Register here.