Today is international Equal Pay Day – because today, November 8th, is the day that women effectively begin to work for free until the end of the year.
The gender pay gap comes in at 14.4% according to WorkEqual, meaning that for the last 14.4% of the year, women stop earning relative to men as the gender pay gap remains unclosed.
WorkEqual conducted a survey showing that 74% of people believe closing the gender pay gap is important and should be a priority for government and employers in support of this act, while16% believe that the gender pay gap is an example of political correctness going too far. 85% of people believe that the key to addressing the gender pay gap is to ensure people who do the exact same job get paid the exact same salary, while 52% believe the gender pay gap is caused by women prioritising childcare and family.
Although the new Gender Pay Gap Information Act shows changes coming down the line, CIPD Ireland’s 2021 pay and employment practices survey found merely 25% of companies in Ireland had published a report on their gender pay gap policies or attempted any sort of plan to address the issue.
The Gender Pay Gap Information Act requires large employers in businesses of 250 people or more to report on the pay discrepancy between men and women in its employ from 2022 onwards. It was introduced as part of the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020. WorkEqual is calling on companies to take action now to identify and tackle the pay gap by addressing some of the major causes of the pay discrepancy.
Which brings us to the focus of WorkEqual’s campaign this year, the barriers to gender pay equality and gender workplace equality and the failings of Irish childcare systems, with seminars such as ‘Reimagining Childcare Provision’.
‘The failings in Ireland’s childcare system have been well-documented,’ Shared Angela Smith, CEO of WorkEqual. ‘Our research clearly shows how childcare – and broader family responsibilities – impact on people’s careers and, in particular, how women bear the brunt of this.
‘On a hopeful note, men who experience family life are more aware of the gender pay gap and the impact this has. And, overall, there is strong public support for action by government and employers to close the gender pay gap. We still have a long way to go and we need the support of everyone – women, men, workplaces and elected representatives – to make Ireland a much more gender-equal society.’
The professional body for HR CIPD issued a report detailing concerns that employees in the workforce felt were barriers to equal workplace treatment, citing childcare, workplace flexibility, pay transparency and education about the gender pay gap to be major issues in need of addressing.
The gender pay gap is a complex issue and has more layers to it than just requiring equal pay. If a female employee is employed in "like work", "work of equal value" or "work rated as equivalent" to a male employee, equal pay calls to prohibit them being paid differently.
But even if a company doesn’t have an equal pay issue, it may have a gendered workforce imbalance, if the majority of its lower-paid roles are filled by women. (via PWC)
Not only is this an issue when people are actually in the workforce – new research shows that even before leaving third level education, male employees in the tech, health, law and engineering industries have higher salary expectations than their female counterparts, showing the issues start well before employees actually enter the workforce.
In 2020, Irish Jobs paired up with Universum to conduct a survey into the widening graduate gender pay gap to see which industries had the most stark gender pay gaps across the board. They surveyed 11,769 students across the areas of business, IT, health, engineering and law, reveals a significant difference in the annual salary expectations of male and female graduates, particularly stark in the fields of law (12%), business (10.5%), and engineering (6%).
There are efforts on the part of many large Irish firms and some multinationals like Bank of Ireland, EY, Google, and PwC to close the gap with initiatives like career development and leadership programmes for female workers, but it’s clear the issue has its roots farther back than the workplace itself.
The new legislation will hopefully have an impact on pay transparency if nothing else, and hopefully the widening gender pay gap will begin to close with continued action from larger companies and further education leading the way.