Equal Pay Day marks the day when women symbolically stop getting paid compared to their male colleagues, due to the gender pay gap.
Last week saw the passing of Equal Pay Day in Ireland, which means that, if you look at the gender pay gap, women in Ireland are effectively ‘working for free’ until the end of the year relative to men.
That’s according to Dublin-based charity Dress for Success, which is behind the #WorkEqual campaign.
“We have a gender pay gap in Ireland of 13.9pc. If you shave 13.9pc off the end of the year, you land on today’s date,” Sonya Lennon, founder of Dress for Success Dublin, said last week (11 November).
The gender pay gap is the average difference between the remuneration for men and women in the workforce and a gap can arise for many reasons.
“Lack of affordable childcare, gender stereotyping, inflexible work options and poor take-up of parental leave are all feeding into the persistent inequalities between women and men,” Lennon added.
‘Progress is too slow’
The gender pay gap is not only an issue in Ireland – it is a universal problem and a global symbol of persevering inequality in society.
European Equal Pay Day took place earlier this month (4 November), as women in the EU earn 16pc less than men on average. European Commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans, along with employment commissioner Marianne Thyssen and gender equality commissioner Věra Jourová, said that “women across Europe still don’t see the laws [around equal pay] matching the reality of their daily lives”.
“European women still work for two months for free compared to their male colleagues and the progress is too slow. While we have made some steps in the right direction in the past five years, more needs to be done and faster. Our citizens expect us to do better.”
Closing the gender pay gap
So, what needs to happen next? Iceland could be leading the way when it comes to closing the gap, after becoming the first country in the world to legally enforce equal pay.
But closing the gap will also require creating equal opportunities for all staff, regardless of gender, and providing flexibility for parents and carers. To help employers continue along the path to equality, Instant Offices has given us some pointers:
- Incentivise paternity leave: Follow in the footsteps of Sweden, where fathers are being incentivised to spend a full three months at home
- Subsidise childcare: Locating and paying for childcare is an added stress for many families – some UK businesses have been stepping in to provide staff with childcare services, which can help reduce employee turnover, increase productivity and improve quality in job applicants
- Introduce remote working: Remote working is one of the most sought-after job perks today – whether it gives staff more leniency around the hours they work or the places in which they carry out their duties, it can be a great way to improve relations with teams, boost drive and motivation
- Be transparent about pay: It’s important to maintain openness and transparency when it comes to salary trends, and companies should research market rates for a role and offer a fair salary for the job they are hiring for
- Ensure that promotions and rewards are fair: Promotions are one of the propelling factors of the gender pay gap, as are pay raises and bonuses, and these must not always fall in favour of men