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Closing the gender pay gap: Strategies for equality in the workplace

ByHindustan Times
Sep 11, 2023 11:34 AM IST

This article is authored by Prashant Pandey, president, Rotostat Services (A ManpowerGroup Company).

The gender pay parity discussion has been at the centre stage for decades. In principle, most developed and forward-looking societies/economies/organisations are in agreement with it and many may have made genuine efforts to address the same.

Gender Equality.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

However, the ground reality has not changed significantly as data will suggest. The gender pay gap has remained relatively the same in the United States over the past 20 years or so. In 2022, women earned an average of 82% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Centre analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers. These results are similar to where the pay gap stood in 2002 when women earned 80% as much as men.

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There has been a lot of research-backed commentary on the reasons for this persistent gender pay gap globally. Some of the oft-articulated reasons include the discrimination women face throughout their employee life cycle; the tendency of women to concentrate on lower-paying occupations like administration; the likelihood of women taking more frequent career breaks due to family responsibilities; and limitations around irregular work hours and flexibility around mobility.

In India, while there may not be much data on the quantum of the gender pay gap, there is consensus that the issue is real and needs addressing. One of the recent encouraging news has been the announcement made by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that its centrally contracted players – both men and women – will get the same match fee. This equity pay policy has truly been a significant and laudable step.

In fact, the Constitution of India guarantees equal pay for equal work for both men and women under Article 39(d) and Article 42. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender under Article 15(1) and Article 15(2).

However, if we need to see substantive on-ground progress when it comes to ensuring gender pay parity – a lot will need to be done on multiple fronts. This issue will require an honest and persistent approach from all stakeholders:-

  • Invest in Women's Education: We need to equip women with the necessary skills to facilitate them to target a cross-section of job families. Also, women need to have self-belief and demonstrate better negotiation skills. Showing up with the necessary repertoire of skills and a plethora of self-worth will be a great catalyst.
  • Transparent and Gender-Neutral Policies: Institutions need to be more audacious and bolder to adopt policies regarding transparency around pay, gender-sensitive work scheduling, defining minimum wages, ignoring career breaks while benchmarking salaries, and addressing existing pay disparities. Action will indeed need to speak louder than words.
  • Increase representation of women in leadership roles: Ensuring that the proverbial glass ceiling is broken for the women workforce will ensure a visible movement towards gender pay parity. While the percentage of women across organisational hierarchies has to significantly improve, the issue is pronounced in leadership roles. This has a direct impact on the policy and culture shaping in organisations.

There are a multitude of factors influencing the current gender pay gaps. Every society, country, and institution may need to have its own unique approach to address it keeping its realities in mind.

However, as long as there is an honest recognition of the issue, and sincere attempts to address them, we will move in the right direction.

This article is authored by Prashant Pandey, president, Rotostat Services (A ManpowerGroup Company).

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