The World Economic Forum Report 2017 states that women are paid less than men. This figure reflects the global amount and differences in the wages of men and women for the same work.

Even men and women with equal qualifications earn differently. This phenomenon is highlighted now that more women are entering the job market.  Why does this happen;

    • Fewer women in top management position earning huge salaries
    • More educated Men in the job market getting the high paying jobs
    • Fear of sexual harassment
    • Fear of termination
    • Non-payment of domestic work done by women
    • Cliques and Boys Club culture in most corporates
    • Poor  legislation and enforcement to ensure equality at the workplace

The reasons may be varied but the net effect is that women earn less than men in the workplace. How can any woman climbing the corporate ladder ensure that this gap is reduced and eventually eliminated?

The Corporate world is a typical example of “A MAN’S WORLD”. For a long time, women did not participate so the structures, rules, and culture are very male-centric.

With the increase of women who have fought their way to top management how can they survive and thrive in this “Man’s World”?  The main issue is CULTURE at the workplace that results in the Gender Gap.

How can you manage and mitigate this when entering the job market?

1. Measure of performance

The work culture of how output is measured is key. Work output should be based on results and not on hours spent. Using hours as a basis is not advantageous for women who may require time off to attend to children and family obligations.

Women in Corporate positions should influence the matrix for assessment of performance to be more favorable to women. The measure should include the natural strengths of women e.g. customer retention, team cohesion, dispute resolution and sustainable growth.

A reality is that after giving birth productivity is lower due to the natural hormonal response of our bodies to prioritize the child. This usually affects productivity.

Perhaps, a different scale for 6 months (while breastfeeding) after pregnancy would help to equalize the scales further. Progressive jurisdictions provide extended maternity leave or flexible hours of up to 2 years without losing your job.

2. Flexible hours

This is a strategy that can be used to ensure that women can contribute/work even while out of the office. Further, it allows the woman more balance in her life.

This strategy however attractive should be used strategically as it can be used as a further tool to increase the gender wage gap. How? Women outside of mainstream job hours may be excluded from projects and decisions as they are not present.

Until the culture of teleconferencing or virtual working is embraced fully, being in the office during work hours remains strategic. As a woman, you can negotiate times for meetings that are in tandem with your personal schedule.

 

3. Equal pay for same grade and qualifications

The policy on job Grades should be based on responsibility and qualifications. For promotions, the name of employees should not be in the shortlisting process.

Basically, the process should be purely merit-based. Further, policy on equal pay for the same grade and role should be implemented. A requirement to disclose salaries of co-workers could be a negotiated point.

Another strategy is a cap on overtime as often women are not able to work overtime due to family life while their male counterparts can.

4. Promotion policy

Negotiate the promotion policy to ensure progress/growth of the company. You can negotiate a promotion every 2 years based on appraisals.

This is a sure way to ensure that you access the higher levels of management as years move forward. A maximum period to be in the same job group can also be a strategy to open up space for women in the top management.

5. Skills enhancement 

Skills enhancement and education incentives and opportunities should be included in the employment contracts. This allows women a chance to advance further and towards the higher job grades.

This policy allows women to continued training on the job to increase their chances of being qualified for the top management jobs.

6. Boy’s club membership

Women need to ensure that they can access all places that their male counterparts access to network and influence change e.g. private members clubs, sports clubs and golf clubs to name a few.

Further, women need to network aggressively. For now, it may be a necessary affirmative action strategy to resort to GIRLS’ CLUB. Women need to support women in the corporate world.

Influence is the catalyst for change. Women in top management need to be deliberate about getting influence and using it to get more women at the boardroom table.

 

7. Include the cost of domestic care

While negotiating your pay, including the amount of support you will require to perform the domestic care while you are at work. Women do not include this cost of their time when negotiating pay and leave packages.

This should be factored in. You may also negotiate Day Care facilities paid by the company or within the company facility.  Many women say this is beneficial and could be a useful negotiation point.

8. Sexual Harassment 

The higher up the corporate ladder, the more acceptable sexual harassment is. Women are made to feel incompetent and unworthy when they complain of sexual harassment at such high levels.

This causes many competent women to opt out of the corporate world due to this or accept to be passed over. It is important for there to be a clear sexual harassment policy.

Further, there should be sensitization seminars often especially for top management to reinforce a positive culture.  This can be a negotiation point for getting employment.

9. Gender training

An awareness of gender issues including Gender Wage Gap allows for conversations, understanding and less resistance to gender mainstreaming strategies and policy.

Negotiate this into the training schedule of the company to sensitize the team and increase acceptance.

Some of these strategies can be negotiated at the time of getting into the workspace or while in the workspace. Women in senior decision-making positions need to make this issue an agenda to be discussed, negotiated and agreed upon.

The progress may be slow but we need to be aware of this and put the policies in place to bridge the gap. The gap has a ripple effect on the economy as work does not reflect to earning of a country and standard of living.

In the long term, the corporate landscape needs to change to be more accommodating to women taking into account their role in the family. A Family is an integral unit of our society and cannot be ignored.

The new landscape must also allow top management to balance their time between family, work, and self. Use of technology has helped this along but a deliberate strategy to even out the Corporate environment would bear more and better results.

In the meantime, I  encourage the women climbing the corporate ladder fearlessly and relentlessly. We are proud of you. KUDOS!


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