Closing the Gender Pay Gap

SCWIST recently participated in the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) – Closing the Gender Pay Gap Event hosted by the Women’s Leadership Council (https://www.boardoftrade.com/events/individual-events/1718-6511).  Cheryl Kristiansen, Make DIVERSITY Possible Project Manager at SCWIST, moderated the panel of experts and was supported by SCWIST members in the audience, including Anja Lanz, Khristine Carino and Christin Wiedemann.  

Christin emphasized that “the gender pay gap is a real issue, it is a relevant issue, it is an urgent issue – but it is NOT a women’s issue”. She shared her insights on LinkedIn

(https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/closing-gender-pay-gap-christin-wiedemann-ph-d-/)

In the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, the World Economic Forum predicts that it will take over 151 years to achieve gender parity in North America. Closing the gender pay gap is a large factor in achieving gender parity, and yet progress has stalled. Canada has dropped to a position of 31 out of 36 OECD countries.  

The gender pay gap starts very early & continues throughout our careers.  A research survey of 1200 girls and boys aged 12 – 18 across Canada shows a $3 per hour gender wage gap in full-time summer jobs.

A report by the Canadian Labour Market Information Council shows the women are paid less than men immediately upon graduation from post secondary and that gap widens over the next 5 years – across all fields of study: 

  • For STEM roles, the gender pay gap starts at 17% and widens to 21%  
  • For business, health, arts, social sciences & education (BPHASE), the pay gap starts at 9% and widens to 24%. 

A recent report funded by Women & Gender Equality Canada – shows that on average – women earned over 13% LESS than men for people aged 25 – 54. The research identified the effects of education, job attributes, industry and demographics – and found that over 63% of the wage gap was unexplained and due to other factors. 

We know that unconscious bias and gender stereotypes are major factors in the pay gap. We know that women are impacted by a maternity penalty and research demonstrates that when more men take parental leave, women’s pay increases.  We also know that the current division of labour for unpaid work is a factor.  

Beyond gender, we know that the pay gap widens based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, immigration status and other intersectional factors. According to Stats Can, the pay gap for Immigrant women is 29%, for Indigenous women 35% and for women with disabilities, the pay gap is 46%.  

Over 70 years ago, the United Nations deemed that equal pay for equal work is a basic human right.  Yet, we are still 100 years away from closing the gender gap globally. Many countries are implementing new policies to accelerate our progress. 

What are the solutions to close the gender pay gap?  

  • We need to tackle systemic barriers including gender bias, societal stereotypes, the maternity penalty, power structures and organizational commitment.  
  • We have to eliminate gender bias in all processes to ensure women are paid equally for the incredible value that they bring to our economy and our society.  
  • Programs that support all types of diversity need to eliminate bias in hiring and promotion – and provide mentors and sponsors to advance careers. 
  • Organizations have to commit to transparent pay structures and be held accountable. 
  • We need to advocate for stricter legislation to accelerate our progress.  
  • Diversity drives innovation and growth – our future depends on it!  

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