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Bridging The Gender Pay Gap: Ensuring Equal Pay For Equal Work

The gender pay gap (GPG) is a pervasive issue that transcends borders and industries, affecting women worldwide says

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Globally, on average, women earn about 20 percent less than men, though the percentage varies across countriesi. According to the annual Gender Gap Report 2023ii, India ranked 127 out of 146 countries in terms of gender parity, from 135 last year. The gender pay gap (GPG) is a pervasive issue that transcends borders and industries, affecting women worldwide. It is expressed as a percentage value and is calculated as the difference between the median earnings of men and women relative to the median earnings of men. While there is an increase in the number of countries registering at least a marginal improvement, such progress is mitigated by an increase in the number of countries with declining scores steeper than 1 percentage point. Despite progress in recent years, the gender pay gap has been a pressing concern with economic and societal implications not just globally but in India as well.

It is important to understand the reasons for the gender pay gap. There are several governing bodies and associations that are working towards taking several measures to irradicate gender pay gaps. Many organisations are joining these associations to promote pay equity not just as a policy but also as a culture. Novo Nordisk, for instance, has been part of the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) since 2022. Led by the International Labour Organization, UN Women, and the OECD, EPIC’s goal is to achieve equal pay for women and men everywhere.

What causes the gender pay gap?

Researchers have explored several explanatory factors as to why the pay gap exists, ranging from ‘likelihood to negotiate,’ to ‘divisions of labour within a family,’ to a ‘lower likelihood of promotion.’

Occupational segregation is something that seems to have led society to move towards pay gaps. Women in the past have focused more on certain jobs predominantly held by women and these jobs tend to be undervalued. Also, enterprises that employ most women tend to have lower wages than businesses employing mainly men. Men have always been taught to be the breadwinners and providers to their families and that has led to men being overrepresented in higher-paying industries like technology, engineering, and finance.

Time out of workplace: By nature’s design women are gifted with nurturing and childbearing abilities. This makes most women take time off or work part-time to care for children or the elderly. potentially leading to disruption in their existing careers and make their return to mainstream challenging.

· Education: Limited access to education and training also plays a big role in this issue. Women still lag men in STEM areas that are associated with higher paid jobs. That has limited their abilities to acquire credentials that are necessary for higher-paying jobs.

·Working hours: Several jobs require employees to work irregular hours, such as night shifts, and inability to work irregular hours is seen as a threat by some organisations. While men in most cases agree to work overtime or in odd shifts which are at times compensated more in comparison to regular shifts. On the other hand, women are unable to take up such opportunities due to because they take up more of the unpaid family responsibilities or due to lack of sufficient childcare.

From purely an asset point of view, men do not usually take career breaks, come in with higher education and skilled training and are willing to work odd hours. Whereas women have been unable

to see through these challenges and have faced the brunt of equal pay issues for many years. Due to some of these factors, many organisations see women employees as a liability rather than an asset.

Closing the gap

The increasing need of the hour is to create awareness and advocacy around gender pay gaps and bring in various policies to promote gender equality at work. However, times are now changing and so are organisations across the globe. If we wish to see the world change, we must do something ourselves. So, what more can be done to eliminate the gender pay gap? Here are some of the initiatives aimed at fostering a fairer workplace environment and finding ways to make sure men and women are paid equally:

Stronger legislative measures: In India, we do have the Equal Remuneration Act, of 1976 which is now codified as part of The Code on Wages, 2019. However, the law needs to be strengthened and enforced more rigorously to ensure equal pay for equal work.

·Opportunities to upskill: Providing training and development opportunities to women especially the ones returning from a maternity or sabbatical break to update and enhance their skill sets.

·Equal Distribution of Work: The best way to resolve this is to open roles and opportunities on a platform accessible to both men and women. In other words, an employee’s skills, and willingness to take up any work must be considered, and remuneration must be provided for the work that is done.

What can the industry do to eliminate the gender gap?

As a first step, recognition of the business benefits of enhanced gender diversity at all levels is critical and a 100% commitment from top leadership is needed to drive this agenda across. At Novo Nordisk, we are continuously reviewing our processes and policies at every stage of the employee experience, including recruitment, compensation, and paid leave. We have introduced recruitment guidelines to ensure a diverse slate of candidates and diverse recruitment panels. We also regularly conduct yearly equal-pay and gender-pay analyses.

Clearly, more specific systemic and policy approaches are needed to reduce the gap.

Ensuring that organisational laws and policies are designed to have an unbiased approach towards parity in salaries and promotions evaluate the pay scales and make corrections if required.

Other aspects such as transparent reward structures and initiatives around pay equity, inclusive benefits are essential to the process.

Policies that are supportive of flexible working at the workplace will encourage more women to apply for jobs at all levels.

Unconscious bias awareness and trainings to ensure that decisions are gender-agnostic.

·Candidate evaluation methodologies and job descriptions are made more inclusive along with corresponding compensations.

A Senior Leadership Advisory Panel could be instrumental in offering advice and feedback on initiatives and as change ambassadors both internally and externally.

The gender pay gap remains a persistent issue with far-reaching economic and social consequences. However, with the right combination of legal measures, workplace initiatives, strong leadership, education, and a global perspective, we can make significant strides towards bridging the gap and

creating a more equitable and prosperous world for all. Closing the gender pay gap is not only a matter of justice but also a powerful catalyst for economic growth and gender equality.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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