Equal Pay – How do we bridge the gender pay divide

Why the gap? Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

A few years ago, Beth was working for a renowned bank in Brooklyn. At the end of the year, her manager handed her a letter with details about her bonus. It was a lot higher than she expected it to be, and hence, was looking forward to receiving it, until, with a closer glimpse, she discerned that it was meant for her fellow male colleague, Ryan. After notifying her manager, she received the correct letter, although, to her astonishment, her bonus was a lot lesser as compared to Ryan’s, despite both of them having started the same job at the same time, had the same background, and had the same levels of experience. What does Beth’s story represent? It depicts a common inequality that needs to be changed from ‘unequal pay’ to ‘equal pay’. Taking this forward, let’s take a look at some vital details about ‘equal pay and its prevalence in my home country, India.

What is ‘Equal Pay’?

Equal Pay – why we need to bridge the gap

Equal pay essentially means that all workers and employees are entitled to receive equal remuneration for the work done at an equal value. Even though the notion is very straightforward, its practice has been proven to be extremely challenging. The phrase “work done at equal value” can signify that one’s jobs can be the same or similar or can be of equal value to attain equal pay as compared to another individual. This distinction is imperative as both women’s and men’s work may involve different types of skills, responsibilities, and working conditions; however, a common idea that firms don’t consider is that both genders can still be of equal pay because of the similarity in value of their work.

Where did ‘Equal Pay’ originate?

The concept of equal pay was born after World War II. Before the war, women were said to be minimally part of the workforce; to be precise, they were deemed for less than 24 per cent of the civilian workforce in the USA. This changed when straining labour deficits forced women to become involved, thus leading to an increase in the workforce to 37 per cent in 1945. At this point, women fundamentally earned less than their male companions even if they did the same amount of work, suggesting the beginning of the problem of our common wage gap. The reason this issue came into existence is that men who joined the military were fretted they would be superseded by women permanently, which is why pay was made ill-matched so that the women were threatened as to their position. When this problem was made apparent, the reformation of equal pay was born. Congregations began protesting for equal pay to prevent sales from adhering to a gap in wages based on gender. In around 1942, the National War Labour Board issued a law that both women and men should earn equal pay for work that is “comparable in quality and quantity”.

Is the policy of ‘Equal Pay’ prevalent in India?

India has a very big pay gap, something I am not proud of as a citizen of the country. Women in India, on average, earn less than 19 per cent than men according to the Monster Salary Index. The freshest data from online career recruitment centres also recommend that men earn Rs. 242 a day; however, women earn only Rs.196, a deeply saddening statistic. Gender wage gaps are prevalent in every single sector! In the IT sector, there is a difference of around 26 per cent, in the manufacturing sector, there is a difference of around 24 per cent, healthcare, and social work has a gap of 21per cent. Although, the one sector that has seen tremendous progress in finance, as there is only a 2 per cent wage gap now, giving me hope that we as citizens and the government can resolve this issue.

Another case study that makes me keep my faith to bring a transformation is the case study of Starbucks. Tata Starbucks, in November 2019, was said to be one of the first businesses in India to close the wage gap 100%. In a report, TATA Starbucks Achieves 100% Pay Equity published in WebWire in 2019 shed light on how Tata Starbucks is all set to achieve 40 per cent gender diversity by 2022, with an aim to achieve “…equal representation at the hiring stage by ensuring a balanced slate of candidates.”. And in turn, setting an example for all industries in the country to take a positive step towards this change.

Equal Pay can boost employee productivity & morale at the workplace!

Why should ‘Equal Pay’ be recognized?

Equal pay has several advantages that should be considered by businesses and firms all across India:

Improves Employee Morale: One of the essential benefits of equal pay for men and women at any businesses’ workplace gives out a greater sense of employee morale. Every employee, including every female, should be inclined to come to work whilst also believing that their firm applauds their talents and skills to their absolute potential. Furthermore, equal pay will also bring out a strong, stalwart message about gender equality, thus motivating female workers to stand their ground and help them climb the social hierarchy. Additionally, equal pay is a factor in creating respectful and cooperative relationships. In the case that women and men are treated differently, they will not be able to maintain a wholesome relationship, therefore creating chaos between co-workers.

Improves Employee Retention: Another benefit of equal pay is that it helps firms remain competitive by preserving notable employees. If female employees comprise the most skilled and performing of the company, paying them the same rate as the men would help retain them and keep them from shifting to another company that contributes a higher pay. This pay equality will also wave female workers that the business remunerates them the same way that male colleagues are.

Attracts a Higher Talent of Potential Applicants: Finding employees that are exceptional at their job is another crucial advantage of equal pay. When female employees recognize that your company has a prominence of paying equally, they are much more likely to apply to your firm, thus helping you to expand your tarn of candidates. If your company is competing with another for the best female employees, equal pay is one of the main differences that could help set your company apart and help you attain more qualified candidates as compared to your competition. Having profoundly qualified candidates will also facilitate economic growth as they would have a fabulous value of performance, regardless of gender.

How can ‘Equal Pay’ be enforced in a workplace?

To enforce equal pay at your workspace, we need to keep in mind five essential aspects – First, before hiring anyone new, make sure that there is no salary disparity by disclosing the salary range based on what current members are paid and give them a brief idea as to what they will be paid. Next, continuously review employee compensation with your HR and finance teams by setting up meetings with your employees so that any injustice in their perspective can be changed.

Furthermore, compensation and performance review meetings should occur separately. This will help make the work system clear as to when employees could expect a pay raise, thus leading to lesser inequalities as all members whose salaries are meant to be raised would occur simultaneously. Moreover, maintain transparency. During team and staff meetings, always disclose salary ranges for all positions so that everyone is well aware of what they could negotiate during the next compensation meeting. And last, advocate for those around you. If you believe someone is not being equally paid, bring it up to the manager or head and support them through the process of obtaining the correct amount.

As Maria Shiver once said, “When we pay women less than men, then we are telling women their work is not as valuable. We are equally valuable, and hence, we all should be paid equally.” Just like Starbucks, we need to close the gender gap present in India in every single sector; from IT to healthcare, the wage gap should be 0%. We need to teach our coming generations the true meaning of a world with equality by not only spreading awareness through our words but by also taking action starting in our workplace. Here’s to a world with fairness, impartiality, and justice.

Parashie Sidhwani
Parashie Sidhwani

Contributor: Parashie Sidhwani

About our Writing Program Student
Parashie Sidhwani is a Grade X student at Oberoi International School, Mumbai. She is greatly passionate about tennis, art, piano, and writing. Although she dreamt of being an astronaut at NASA, she wishes to pursue journalism or architecture in the future. 


More real life stories of Unequal Pay

TATA Starbucks Achieves 100% Pay Equity

Workplaces that work for women

Explainer: Everything you need to know about pushing for equal pay

The History Of The Equal Pay Act Of 1963

What Are the Benefits of Equal Pay for Women & Men?

How leaders can ensure equal pay for employees

Gender pay gap still high in India: Men get paid Rs 242 every hour, women earn Rs 46 less

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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