Kavitha’s keynote: Attitudes towards gender pay are changing

This week, we reported that almost seven in 10 employees in Europe would contemplate leaving their organisation if they knew it had an unfair gender pay gap.

Interestingly, the research, carried out by HR management software organisation ADP, found that this figure rose to four in five among 16 to 34 year-olds.

While the issue’s importance varied from country to country within Europe, the statistics clearly show that the issue of gender pay is here to stay.

As ADP’s managing director Jeff Phipps rightly pointed out, employees’ attitudes towards inequality are changing, and they are prepared to vote with their feet. Indeed, it is only likely to become a greater priority as younger generations enter the workplace.

This is, therefore, a matter that employers would be foolish to ignore, as doing so risks damaging their reputation, as well as the engagement and performance of their workforces.

While on the topic of equality, another story of note this week was the Canadian government’s introduction of a parental sharing benefit to allow birth, adoptive and same-sex parents to share childcare responsibilities more fairly.

The Employment Insurance (EI) parental sharing benefit increases the standard duration of parental benefits from 35 weeks to 40 weeks and the extended duration of parental benefits from 61 weeks to 69 weeks. Until earlier this month (March 2019), neither parent could access more than a total of 35 weeks or 61 weeks for the standard duration and extended duration of parental benefits respectively.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of families, children and social development, believes the new measure will help “break down barriers to gender equality by making it easier for mothers to return to work sooner if they wish, reducing the wage gap between women and men and helping Canadians spend more time with their families.”

But fairness is not only a gender pay issue.

Calls have been made for more transparency and accountability in employers’ approaches to pay, as well as greater links between executive and employee reward.

The Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) Committee is proposing that that employers’ remuneration committees set, publish and explain an absolute cap on executives’ annual total remuneration in order to encourage fairer pay practices.

Its report, Executive rewards: Paying for success, attempts to address the gap between chief executive pay and organisation performance and employee pay, further suggests that executive pay structures should have a greater focus on fixed basic salary and deferred shares,  rather than being based on bonuses.

Whether these steps will truly help eliminate pay differentials remains to be seen.

Kavitha Sivasubramaniam
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