The issue of gender pay gap has been persistent and has a tendency to keep growing with career progression.
Most multinational organisations have been striving to get more women in the workforce to achieve a balance in gender diversity. However, data still suggests that the corporates are missing out on something, as gender diversity numbers are all skewed. As per the International Labour Organisation (ILO), India has one of the lowest female participation rates in the world, ranking 120 among the 131 countries, for which data is available.
From reforming parental, childcare and other leave policies to allowing flexible work timings, organisations are investing much effort and thought into retaining and getting more women on board. However, there are still many other issues and challenges that hold back women from sustaining successful careers. Experts suggest that one of the most crucial aspects that can boost diversity is overlooked — gender pay equity.
Subha Barry, vice president & general manager, Working Mother Media (USA), says, “The challenge of pay equity is a vicious loop. During the hiring stage itself women are judged on the basis of their previous pay package, are offered lesser than what a male would have been offered for the same job and as the woman grows in her career, the pay disparity also keeps multiplying.”
A bigger concern is that most women don’t even realise that they are being paid less as compared to their male colleagues. Barry shares a metaphorical case, where a woman applies for a job that is worth 150,000 dollars, while she has been earning only 100,000 dollars for the same. The recruiter offers to pay 125,000 and is glad to have saved 25,000 while the woman feels happy to have bagged a 25 per cent raise. The reality is that she is still being paid lesser than what the job is worth. Barry says, “The issue of gender pay gap has been persistent and has a tendency to keep growing with career progression. The only way out is for recruiters to stop deciding the compensation for women based on their previous salary. Instead, they should focus on their capabilities and offer to pay them what the job is worth.”
As per a report from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), women earn only 56 per cent of what their male colleagues earn for performing the same work. Moreover, the more educated a woman is, the wider the gender pay gap and it further increases as women advance in their careers. Monster India’s recent Salary Index Report (May 2016) also revealed that men in India earn a median gross hourly salary of Rs 288.68 while women only get Rs 207.85 per hour.
A bigger concern is that most women don’t even realise that they are being paid less as compared to their male colleagues.
One of the biggest factors behind the pay gap is the current mindset of organisations. In addition, Barry shares, “Systemic barriers within companies, such as challenges around inadequate maternity leave, lack of any or subsidised childcare or flexible work arrangements, combined with the ways in which women are recruited, mentored, developed and promoted, all conspire to derail women’s careers.”
It is high time companies look at how they recruit, develop, promote and ultimately, retain women and minorities. In addition to all the policies and programmes that companies are putting in place, they must work to engage men to be allies and create a culture of ‘gender partnership’ within the organisations. In fact, talent should be gender neutral, but at the same time organisations need to realise that unless they have a clear sense of the nuances of the uniqueness each gender offers, they will continue to have a bias for one gender over another.
One of the biggest factors behind the pay gap is the current mindset of organisations.
It goes without saying that there is an absolute need for having women equally represented across teams. Women offer a different set of perspectives to the team – their upbringing, their life experiences, their unique temperaments; each impact the team differently from the men. Talking about how women make excellent professionals, Barry says, “Women are great at risk management, innovation and research and development. They are also exceptional as financial advisors and asset managers. They make great coaches as well. In my view, women are capable of being as good as men in most of the areas”. To substantiate Barry’s belief, there are enough studies that show how organisations with more female employees perform better than those with lesser women.
With that in mind, women certainly shouldn’t compromise on the pay part. Women need to be well aware of what they are worth, while organisations need to appreciate the business imperative in having more women at par with men in the workforce.