I had a brand new post all ready to go yesterday on a totally different topic until I saw this on Women’s Agenda:
Equal Pay Day is today, September 5, in order to represent the additional number of days women need to work past the end of the finical year. With our current gender pay gap now at 18.2%, the average full-time working woman has to work an extra 66 days in order to take home a salary that’s equivalent to the average full-time working man.
Obviously I knew that there was a pay gap and I knew that is was manifestly unfair that women doing the same job as men get paid differently but when I saw it quantified like this I literally felt sick! I am a father of two daughters, a friend to a group of amazing women and at the very least a human being so that number is beyond ridiculous.
Upon reading this I decided I should do some research to understand how and why this gap is allowed to exist and I discovered some truly awful facts:
- Did you know that until 1969, legislation allowed employers to pay women a minimum rate of pay that was 25 per cent less than male employees doing the same or similar work, Source Wikipedia
- Did you know that in every single industry there is a pay gap favouring men, Source WGEA
- Did you know that if you live in Western Australia the pay gap is the worst we have in the country standing at 26.9% as of November 2013 which means women living there have to work an extra 98 days to have the same income as a man?, Source WGEA
I know there are reasons why women struggle at times because if they take a career break to have children it puts them behind of the development but it shouldn’t be this hard. Worse still is that if you do take a break not only does your earning reduce but the ability to get back into the workforce or even get that promotion into better role is significantly impacted. Technology changes, markets change, other people who don’t take a break get promoted and it all conspires to leave women short changed on just about every front. It goes even deeper than this because the imbalance in pay also leads to women retiring with up to 45% less superannuation.
Now I realise we can’t change this overnight but surely if we all get together and focus on this we can make some positive impact on the gap. At the current rate of change it is going to take another 30+ years to achieve full pay equality which is unacceptable. To reduce the pay gap and even get to the point of eliminating it we need to get rid of the stereotype of “jobs men do and jobs women do” and start to demand accountability from governments, businesses and society as a whole.
Let’s celebrate the women who achieve breakthroughs in typically male dominated industries and give inspiration to all other women. We can’t keep saying it is because of career choices that the gap exists and just put it into the too hard basket. We need to get organisations hiring the best talent available and make it completely inclusive so that we foster a culture where women not only get equal pay but if they are a top performer they get better pay to reflect that.
Every one of us needs to step up and I am making a commitment to do everything I can to make this happen. I am just one person but one person is a start and I know there are many others out there thinking the same. Don’t just accept it. Don’t use the “well it’s always been that way and anyway there is nothing I can do” excuse. Don’t let our society continue to find ways to justify why we are treating women like second class citizens.
We owe it to our daughters, sisters, family, friends and society as a whole to make this happen.