The Gender Pay Gap: Does it Continue to Exist?
The gender pay gap (also commonly referred to as pay equity) is a topic that continues to puzzle and engage me; my interest in this topic started almost 20 years ago when I started my career in health care and continued to plague me while I completed my post-graduate work and as I “climbed the latter” in male-dominated work cultures. It engages me because it’s a subject that I speak about often, mostly amongst friends and small groups (and now in a blog post for the first time) and it puzzles me because most days, I cannot believe we continue to have this debate. There is no need for debate, this issue is an easy fix and for me, the data supports my own lived experience many years ago.
The gender pay gap was, again, the topic of a recent Huffington Post article (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/05/06/gender-pay-gap-canada_n_7223508.html) and again, it caught my attention and thoughts. This article, sadly, spoke specifically about the gender pay gap in Canada; “The Gender Pay Gap In Canada Is Twice The Global Average” … wait, what?
The data that supports this recent article was based on research conducted by Catalyst Canada (http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/womens-earnings-and-income#footnote7_wxl4wt6) and as shared by HuffPo author, Rebbeca Zamon, “The global pay gap was about $4,000 on average between men and women, and the Canadian pay gap was just over $8,000,” Alex Johnston, executive director of Catalyst Canada. Please review the links for more data and the variety of reasons stated for the gender pay gap, reasons we’ve all heard before.
As mentioned, I’ve had my own experience with the topic of gender pay gap and as always, I like to share stories in hopes that we learn from one another. A few years ago, I was hired in a management position and during one of my pay equity discussions with a small group of colleagues, it came to my attention that one male colleague’s salary was $10,000 more than mine. This colleague was kind enough to share this information with me; he truly supported pay equity, my work, and me as a person and I am forever grateful to him for this support! My colleague and I held the same position but he also knew I had a few more years of experience and education than him simply due to the number of years we had each accomplished in our careers so far … and he encouraged me to discuss this matter with my manager and human resources.
Three things happened as a result of these discussions, one positive and two very negative. First, the positive: human resources granted me the same salary from that point forward. However, this action was presented to me in a very negative light and placed me, as a new employee, in a negative position from their point of view. First, their action was packaged as “a raise” and I was told not to expect a raise in one year’s time. Second, I was now viewed as a “problem employee” from this point forward, from my manager as well as human resources. I should have said, three negative outcomes because from my point of view, I no longer trusted the organization. I didn’t feel supported, I felt they were dishonest from the start and now, instead of admitted their oversight in all matters of pay equity, I was made to feel like to issue was my fault and the leadership looked at me like a “problem child.” Needless to say, this relationship didn’t last long and thankfully, another organization wooed me based on my talent and experience and my remuneration was fair and equitable.
Do you have a personal experience to share? As an organization, what procedures do you have in place to ensure pay equity? Let’s keep the pay equity dialogue open until the gender pay gap issue becomes a non-issue in Canada and elsewhere!
About the Author
Following a long career in healthcare, Claire works with individuals and organizations in the GTA offering program & curriculum design, strategic planning & business development. One of Claire’s main focus is community engagement by creating non-profit Community Hubs using under-utilized schools with the City of Toronto. Claire is a Founding Partner of The ALSC, a non-profit organization located in Toronto that supports student athletes, academic studies & life-skills. In other community efforts, Claire sits on the Board of Directors of Women At The Centre (a non-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of gender-based violence) and holds the position of Director, Women’s Economic Development and Engaging Men & Boys portfolios. Claire also collaborates with various associations who advocate for women-related issues such as women in STEM & local politics. Recently, Claire developed a new certificate program, “Nonprofit Leadership & Management” for George Brown College & will start teaching in 2015. You can also find additional authored posts about Leadership & Emotional Intelligence on www.ChangeYourGameBealeader.com. To read Claire’s personal blog: www.clairesmbb.wordpress.com