Now more than ever, women are redefining pathways to power, rearchitecting industries, sparking movements, and solving the most pressing problems of our time.
Despite this, much more effort is required to address the issues that result in gender based pay inequity in corporate South Africa, says Lindiwe Sebesho, Executive Committee Member of the South African Reward Association.
“In light of women’s month, we find ourselves having to once again put a spotlight on where we are going wrong when it comes to this topic. We hope this will encourage reflection so that corporates who want to be a foundation for the innovation that those with a truly diverse and inclusive workplace achieve, can take due action” says Sebesho.
Equal pay for equal work is still a fairy tale
According to the ILO Global Wage report’s 2018/19 statistics, women continue to be paid 28% less than men.
The report covered 70 countries and 80% of wage employees worldwide. An even more alarming statistic is that South Africa has the world’s highest wage inequality overall.
“South Africa’s history and legacy resulted in exclusionary policies, which is why the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 was introduced. The responsibility of reducing inequality in wage distribution as well as protecting and advancing persons who were disadvantaged by unfair discrimination lies with employers.
Providing equal pay for men and women doing equal value work is an important step on the path towards a fairer South Africa,” says Sebesho.
The motherhood penalty
The ‘motherhood penalty’ refers to research that shows that women see a significant reduction in earnings after having children, something that men are not subjected to.
The magnitude of the drop in women’s earnings vary from country to country, but research has found that there is a high correlation between the intensity of cultural expectations of women to stay at home with children and the degree to which they experience the motherhood penalty.
“There is still a lot of unconscious bias in how we treat mothers, with men enjoying an income boost when they have children and women earning an average of 10% less for each child they conceive,” says Sebesho.
Research has indicated that working moms are actually more productive workers. Despite this, there are many managers who avoid hiring younger women to get around maternity leave and the belief that women ‘aren’t as good at their jobs’ when they return.
“It is advisable for women, particularly skilled women, to seek out employers who are committed to the advancement of women and illustrate this through favorable policies for working moms, value family and offer flexible work arrangements without a pay penalty. It’s also important to make sure that women have the support they need at home, as child-rearing isn’t a women-only job,” says Sebesho.
The report further highlights the fact that women tend to not always ask to be paid what they are worth, even though they are more educated and more capable than at any other point in history.
“Those in leadership positions need to use their authority to promote and advocate for women. It is imperative that we lead deliberate and structured approaches towards combating gender inequality in corporate South Africa.
The current and future talent that must create sustainable solutions for the world’s problems, depends on it,” concludes Sebesho.