The age-old debate of Gender Pay Gap has been revived after a recent survey, conducted by the website Glassdoor, has revealed that less than 33% of women receive bonuses in their organisations as compared to 44% men. Furthermore, 37% of women said that their bonus was dependent on company performance, in comparison to just 27 per cent of men, indicating that women are less likely to get a bonus, regardless of the performance of the company.
Though the finding has reinforced the reality of the concept, it did not really come as a surprise to many. Studies and research done for decades have pointed out the depressingly predictable results of how women are paid less than men, despite being equally qualified, skilful and doing the exact same work. Optimist estimates by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org, show that at this rate, the gender pay gap might take a hundred years to bridge. Studies show that, in 2014, women working fulltime in the USA were paid on an average 79% of the salary that men were paid1. Though there is a marginal improvement as compared to the 70s and 80s, the pace is miniscule. Add to that the flawed notion of men performing better in certain professions (say, scientific research or mathematics) aggravates the problem. Even women in top managerial positions, heading companies and performing duties on the company’s Board, are paid lesser than that of their male counterparts, often by a percentage in two figures.
However, to truly understand the context of the figure of 33% women getting a bonus, one needs to identify factors in a quantifiable manner, and not explain them only in a cultural setting, like that of patriarchy. A simple Google search will be sufficient to realise the complexity and variety of the issue at hand (Even WikiPedia has a detailed page with a tonne of facts and figures about the scenario in USA). A variety of factors like marital status, parental status, and age are viewed differently for both the genders. In other words, a man with kids is viewed as the breadwinner and might even get a generous end-of-year bonus, whereas the women will be provided with advice to balance work and domestic life more efficiently. Though this is a gross generalization of the issue, at some level, it is also true. What’s more, a young married woman would mean she would go on a maternity leave at some point, which is another bitter pill for the organisations. Hence, it all boils down to productivity and value to the organisation, and the stereotypes just facilitate the concept. A study done by Totaljobs suggests that this disparity in pay begins right at the entry level, when fresher’s join workforce right after college, and sustain over time, indicating a flaw in the way men and women are viewed while joining an organisation.
Several studies have pointed out that right from the process of screening applications, to negotiating salaries and benefits, to bonuses, a there is subtle sexism at work (pun unintended). The Glassdoor survey, conducted in UK, also shows that women have less confidence than men that their hard work will be acknowledged and rewarded. While 75 per cent of men think they are up for a bonus, only 61 per cent of women agree. The figures could be worse in developing countries like India. Predictably, ensuring gender equality in India, in its entirety, can astronomically boost the economic growth and help the GDP grow to the tune of Rs 46 lakh crore ($700 billion), by 2025, a McKinsey report says. For the world, this figure stands at $28 trillion, or roughly an increase of roughly 26%.
The issue was under the spotlight recently when Jennifer Lawrence, the famous Hollywood actress, wrote a rather blunt essay highlighting the disparity in her paycheque from that of male actors, in Lena Dunham’s feminist mail-out ‘Lenny’. (Read more about it here)
The good news there is an increased dialogue and awareness regarding the issue, globally. A few leading organisations are going all out to ensure that employees are treated equally, irrespective of their gender, and some have consciously and explicitly added this to the company policy and culture. Several practical steps in the same direction have already been initiated; both at the corporate and policy level, but their true realisation will take place, only when all the stakeholders are involved. The organisations need to consciously inculcate the aspect of fair pay into their policies, and asses through regular audits the irregularities that might arise. This needs to be supported by complimentary laws for protection and grievance redressal. Women, on their own level, need to be confident negotiators, in terms of salary, benefits and promotions, for women often assume the unsaid hierarchy that exists already. Gender Pay Gap, is a reality, which is more often than not written off as a myth and a ‘projected reality’ by the naysayers. Massive efforts and movements, to tackle the issue, are in their nascent stages, and need unanimous support to become a success. The Glassdoor surbvey is not the first such study to shock us; neither will it be the last, however, what it can work as, is a stimulus, for all of us to work in this direction.
Source: AAUW Report