Bridging the Pay Gap

We have been fighting for this for decades now. The whole world continues to operate on a pay gap between men and women, with the most developed countries coming no nearer than a 10% difference in favour of men. While South Africa remains a ‘third-world’ country, we have to know that we are capable of bridging the gap, and setting an example it’s high time is set. We are already doing comparatively well, at 15th out of 144 countries in gender equality.

“There’s definitely a notable gap in pay” – Daniel Deland-Samouilhan

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I spoke with Daniel Deland-Samouilhan, a former recruiter, on the gendered pay gap, to get the experience of someone who has dealt with it first-hand. You can find it here: Pay Gap Interview

The common opinion is that gender equality has long since been achieved in business. In school we learn about BEE, and the long-time racial inequalities we’re working to fix. But we learn nothing about continuing gender imbalances in the same workplaces. Companies are still influenced by the patriarchal leftovers of the last century, and some men in important positions just do not want things to change. Women in South Africa earn an average of 24% less than men in the same position according to the World Economic Forum . The Global Gender Gap Report 2016 they conducted states that ‘More than a decade of data has revealed that progress is still too slow for realizing the full potential of one half of humanity within our lifetimes.’ And while this is disheartening, it’s also indicative of how much work can be done, how much our generation can advance the rights of our people.

What’s worse is that women of colour typically earn even less than white women. Often a lot less. They face discrimination both against their gender and their race. Analytico conducted a study in South Africa on the pay gap between professionals based both on gender and colour. Its findings were based on 692,704 individuals – represented in this graph –  and honestly they are disturbing.Median-monthly-earnings 2016.Analytico5-aworkingday-768x767

Then there is unpaid work, called the double day. Women have to go to work, and return home to cook, clean, put children to bed, look after the elderly, shop for groceries, etc. Running the household is traditionally considered women’s work. And while more women than ever before have become part of the workforce, culture continues to insist on ‘women’s work’ in the home.

What can we do? Entrepreneurs are a large part of South Africa’s economy, and should be pushers for social change, paying for the work done, not the gender of the worker. More significantly, you can talk about what you earn, what you deserve, and learn how it compares with your co-workers. Wage a great debate with that one family member who still just doesn’t get it. Form old-school self-run unions and band together to make demands… or just approach your actual union. If everyone insisted on equality we would have it. When Martin Luther King (I know, his name sounds like a cliche by now) fought for black freedom in America, he did not limit his vision to equal civil rights – it was to save the soul of his country. In the same way, the limited rights of women globally is not an issue for women. It is an issue which affects the moral stand of every country.

[My lead photo if from a march in Washington, 1963]

 

 

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