Here at MAYDAY, we strive to provide our candidates fair and equal treatment across the board – no matter your gender (or race, creed or political standing). Our goal is to connect the best candidates with the most relevant employers, at a pay rate that is equal, fair and a true reflection of the abilities and value the candidate will bring. The gender pay gap has been lurking in the background for too long and we are committed to the cause – it’s time to make the workplace fair and equal for all.
This often-overlooked issue affects women across all industries, professions, and employment levels. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the national gender pay gap currently sits at 14.6%. That means that men earn about $245 more per week than women do in the same roles.
There has been change over time, and since 1912 the gap has decreased from a 54% gap and it is now at the lowest it’s been in 20 years. However, there is still work to be done for many companies and employers to address the problem, bring it out into the open, and overcome it.
Let’s look at a few reasons why the pay gap still exists, including:
Stepping Out to Raise a Family: Many women hit pause on their careers in order to have children and raise families. Sadly, reentering the workforce often leads to lower salaries than before they left. This could include coming back after several years and having to take lower paying jobs due to the time gap. In even worse cases, some women lose their jobs or have to accept lower positions after only being away for maternity leave!
Less Likelihood to Ask for a Pay Rise: According to a report from National Public Radio, women are up to four times less likely to ask for a pay rise than men. This hesitation to ask for more money is one of the main reasons why women’s earnings remain lower than men’s.
Asking for Less Money: Many women who do push for raises inevitably ask for less money than their male counterparts. As we will discuss a little later, one of the most effective ways to overcome this is to open up salary information instead of keeping it a closely guarded professional secret.
Undervaluing Themselves: Further studies presented in a post from Business Vision also reveal that women do not ask for money because they undervalue their own skills. This underselling of skills and experience can have a highly negative effect on whether a woman will ask for a rise and how much she will ask for during the negotiations.
So, what do we do about it? In a post from Ellevate, a professional women’s network, a recent poll of over 1,000 professional women revealed that 20% of respondents were unsatisfied with their companies’ handling of diversity. Many of these respondents mentioned their frustrations about having diversity discussed during corporate meetings and presentations, and then very little changing afterward. It seems that one of the first steps to eliminate the gender pay gap is to push for real, effective changes in the workplace – beyond the ‘feel-good’ PowerPoint slide.
There currently seems to be an onus on women to seek money in a more assertive way – on the one hand, this is a true statement, however it simplifies the issue. There is a difference in the way men and women are raised and the messages they receive from a very young age – men are ‘meant to be’ successful ladder climbers who should do whatever it takes to get what they want (which can be a damaging mentality for men’s sense of self-worth and connection to self), and women are ‘meant to be’ likeable, aimable and submissive – qualities that rarely lead to having the confidence and ability to ask for equal pay.
So, what is the first step in making any sort of change become real? The answer to this question comes in the form of transparency in disclosing employee earnings
Part of the challenge the gender pay gap entails is the almost secretive nature of disclosing how much we earn. This strange taboo perseveres in many cultures across the world – Australia included.
This raises an important question: why are we so secretive about how much we earn?
One of the most effective methods of reducing the gender pay gap is to get over this concealed nature of pay. Transparency takes the mystery out of earnings. In doing so, it also sheds more light on where unfair pay gaps may exist within a company.
A recent article from Forbes highlighted a case study of how this principle actually worked to fix the pay gap. The article noted that a UK tech firm, Verve, opted to switch to full transparency in employee earnings. Employees could see how much their peers, supervisors, executives, and even the CEO made.
The outcome? No one quit or left the company after the revelations. Instead, employees saw the truth and questioned pay discrepancies when they saw them. The company was happy to justify each employee’s pay, and it opened up the conversation. It also effectively overcame the gender wage gap that occurred when companies were not open about employee pay.
Recent research has shown when hiring managers interview candidates from outside their organisation, asking, “what is your current salary?” can continue to promote the gender pay gap, as women who were underpaid in a previous role may then continue to be underpaid in their next role. It’s important to always benchmark a salary expectation with employees in the same role within the business, and with the skill-set and experience your potential new hire can bring to your organisation.
How to Overcome the Gender Pay Gap
Whether an employer or an employee, finding a way out of the gender pay gap is most certainly an important concern for you. Here are a few strategies that can help employers achieve this objective:
Perform a Pay Gap Analysis: Employers who may have concerns about pay equality can perform a pay gap analysis. This entails a ‘number crunch’ of data that is already within some form of an employment tracking system.
Use Objective Metrics for Job Performance/Raises: Creating clear-cut, objective standards helps to eliminate ambiguity in job expectations and potential pay. If employees have any concerns, they can refer to these objective standards to understand their pay.
Make Pay Transparent: Following in the footsteps of Verve, employers could also opt to make earnings transparent for all employees. When employees have questions, employers can also refer to the objective metrics to justify employee pay. Transparency about earnings is one of the most effective ways to stop pay inequality.
Another article from Australia’s WGEA also noted that one of the best ways to improve the pay gap is for employers to take direct action. A few statistics from that article reveal why this is so important:
Over half of Australian employers (58.4%) don’t assess pay to identify gender discrepancies.
While over 70% of Australian employers had policies relating to pay equality, only about 30% had any sort of formal process described in managerial duties.
About 41% of Australian employers who completed a pay gap analysis failed to take any action after their findings.
What all of these numbers show is that employers who take action will achieve measurable change. Employees can raise awareness about inequality, however, employers must respond to these concerns through changes in company policies and standards.
It’s time to remove the so-called ‘veil of ignorance’ from the gender pay gap. In today’s working culture, we must all work together to support equality for all.
MAYDAY Recruitment stands with all employees and employers committed to eliminating the gender pay gap. If you are an employer ready to hire qualified staff – or an employee seeking a fair and balanced place to work – get in touch today. We’ll make the connections that lead to satisfying and productive working relationships for everyone.