In the daily grind of work life, there’s a hush-hush topic that’s been around forever, quietly affecting women in the workplace – the gender pay gap. It’s not just about the money, it’s about unequal treatment rooted in age-old beliefs. The trend of not hiring more women or giving them equal pay is fuelled by patriarchy, lack of education, and old-fashioned prejudices.
You’ve heard it before – “Women aren’t as dedicated as men to their careers,” or “Hiring men is cheaper because maternity leave is a company headache.” And who can forget the classic, “Women are too emotional for high-pressure jobs.” The gender pay gap in India is a narrative that demands our attention It’s time to look at things through a new lens and challenge the status quo.
What is the Gender Pay Gap Exactly and How Big is this Gap?
The gender pay gap is a phenomenon where women find themselves on the shorter end of the paycheck compared to their male colleagues. In simpler terms, it is the average difference in earnings between men and women doing the same jobs.
- “The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently ranked India at 135 out of 146 countries in its Global Gender Gap (GGG) Index for 2022. According to the World Inequality Report 2022 estimates, men earn 82 per cent of the labour income in India, whereas women earn 18 per cent.”
- “In the year between July 2022 and June 2023, an average salaried Indian male made ₹20,666 in a month. A woman, on the other hand, made ₹15,722.25.”
- “But women are making moves, and they have a seat at the head of the table.”
Absolutely! We do see more women in leadership positions than before. But does that eliminate the gender pay gap?
An IIM-Ahmedabad study revealed last year: While women at the individual contributor level earn only 2.2% less than men working in similar roles, the gap widens to 3.1% for managers/supervisors and 4.9-6.1% for directors and senior executives.
What are the factors affecting the Gender Pay Gap in India?
1. Gender norms
Society often expects women to assume the primary caregiver role, a belief deeply ingrained and contributing significantly to the gender pay gap. The key to achieving workplace equality is challenging and overcoming these entrenched norms.
Moreover, the choices young women make in their education are influenced by societal expectations, impacting their career options and perpetuating traditional gender roles. These early decisions, rooted in societal norms, act as limiting factors, constraining opportunities for women.
Cultural biases further compound the issue by influencing perceptions of women’s capabilities and roles in society. This bias restricts the career choices and progression of women, creating a cycle that sustains the gender pay gap.
2. Corporate policies
Some companies provide more maternity leaves to women, assuming they’re the primary caregivers. Providing additional maternal leave is a positive step, yet there exist challenges for women as they resume work. Biased perspectives assume that women with family responsibilities may underperform in higher positions, creating hurdles for their career advancement.
On the other side, paternity leave is often either non-existent or inadequate, reinforcing the notion that only women are responsible for family duties, and men are not expected to contribute. This sets up a tricky situation, where supporting women in one area unintentionally strengthens traditional gender roles.
In essence, these company policies create a double-edged sword, attempting to assist women while unintentionally reinforcing outdated perspectives on gender roles.
3. Workplace discrimination
Gender discrimination, found in hiring, promotions, and salary discussions, plays a significant role in keeping the gender pay gap alive. These biases, often rooted in traditional ideas about men and women, lead to unequal treatment in the workplace.
In certain industries, if one gender is more common, there tend to be differences in how much people are paid. Additionally, the way men and women negotiate pay and the biases in how their performance is evaluated can create problems. Women might face difficulties in asking for fair pay, and biases in evaluating their work may lead to them being undervalued.
How can you Reduce the Gender Pay Gap in India?
India has taken legislative steps to address the gender pay gap, with landmark acts like the Minimum Wages Act (1948), the Equal Remuneration Act (1976), and the 2019 Code on Wages. In 2017, the Maternity Benefit Act was amended to extend maternity leave to 26 weeks for women in larger establishments.
Leading companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are actively reducing gender pay disparities by implementing gender balance programs, including leadership development and mentoring for women. Similarly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has set an example by introducing a pay equity policy, ensuring equal match fees for male and female cricketers.
To propel further change, several measures can be undertaken:
1. #InspireInclusion with Equal Work responsibilities
Encouraging shared responsibilities between men and women at home and work is crucial for dismantling traditional gender roles. By fostering an environment where both genders actively participate in domestic and professional duties, workplaces can contribute to a more balanced and fair division of labour.
Conduct regular diversity and inclusion training programs to raise awareness. Establish mentorship programs that pair employees with mentors who can provide guidance and support. Additionally, sponsorships help underrepresented individuals access career opportunities and advancement.
2. #InspireInclusion with Workplace Sensitisation
Conducting awareness programs is vital to address gender discrimination issues in the workplace. By fostering a deeper understanding of diverse roles for women and challenging stereotypes, organizations can cultivate a culture that values equality. This helps employees understand the importance of creating an inclusive environment and provides tools to overcome unconscious biases.
3. #InspireInclusion with Active Hiring of Women
Actively seeking to recruit women in various roles is a proactive step toward breaking down gender stereotypes within organizations. It contributes to gender diversity, ensuring that women are represented across different job functions and levels. This diversity not only enriches perspectives but also challenges preconceived notions about suitable roles for women.
4. #InspireInclusion with Flexible work arrangements
Implementing flexible work options, such as remote work or flexible hours, acknowledges individuals’ diverse family responsibilities. This approach facilitates increased participation of women in the workforce, allowing them to balance their professional and personal lives more effectively. Flexible arrangements contribute to a more inclusive workplace culture.
5. #InspireInclusion with Transparent pay structures
Establishing transparent pay structures is fundamental in ensuring fairness and eliminating gender bias in salary decisions. When the criteria for compensation are clear and unbiased, organizations promote pay equality, fostering a workplace where individuals are rewarded based on their skills and contributions rather than gender.
6. #InspireInclusion with Zero Tolerance for discrimination
Enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment underscores a commitment to creating a safe and respectful workplace. This involves communicating the policy to all employees, emphasizing the consequences of discriminatory actions. Establishing robust reporting mechanisms ensures that employees feel secure when reporting incidents, and it encourages a culture where issues are addressed promptly.
The gender pay gap is a complex issue influenced by various factors, and addressing each of these aspects is crucial for resolving it. Age-old prejudices won’t vanish overnight, but ongoing efforts are essential. Companies, families, women, and everyone in society must take the initiative to bring about change. With a continuous struggle, we can achieve equality and fairness for women in domestic as well as work environments.
At Kelp, we firmly believe that cultivating safe, happy and inclusive work environments serves as the foundation for business transformation and expansion and the quest to get equality and fairness for women in domestic as well as work enviroments is important for achieving them.
Kelp was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best solutions to organizations to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 10 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), EAP and D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion). But the common objective of all these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For our services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH), Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (D,E &I)or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at email@example.com, call +91-95001-29652 and we’d be able to help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.