Some people are still more equal than others

Thursday May 25, 2017

A recent study conducted by the founder of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) found that the Irish gender pay gap stands at 14.4% and is gradually getting worse. What is even more disturbing is that the gap widens to 30% for those who have children.

This is despite regulation from the Maternity Legislation Act 1994, which states that female workers should not be worse off when they return to employment after maternity.

The lack of affordable childcare for mothers exasperates this widening pay gap, and also the proportion of women in positions of responsibility. Statistics show that the gender pay gap amongst top earners is 24.6%, which suggests that the glass ceiling is more apparent than ever.

So what is being done about this sorry state of affairs. School teachers are collaborating with the corporate world to encourage girls at school level to consider STEM subjects. The hope is that they will follow paths that lead into traditionally male-dominated fields like engineering and thus help close the pay gap that way. The government is also demanding that employers are transparent with pay scales across their organisation to encourage parity. Only time will tell if such initiatives are successful.

Another area that needs addressing is at boardroom level, where the ratio between men and women is one of the worst in Europe. Looking across the Irish Channel, robust efforts in the UK have had a dramatic impact there. In five years, the number of female directors has more than doubled from 12.5% to over 25%, and the ‘all-male board’ has been eliminated at FTSE 100 level. Tellingly, they are not stopping there with new targets of 33% being suggested for 2020.

Employers that undervalue the contribution of women in the workplace are missing out on a huge section of the workforce. Any business that is not making the most of this resource is very likely to be putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

If you need help addressing the issues raised in this blog for your business, talk to The HR Dept who can help with policies, remuneration guidance and culture.

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