Career Woman

Gender pay gap can be closed: 6 powerful tactics to shut it for good


The gender pay gap is still a big problem, even in first-world countries. As Australian Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner (2007-2015), Elizabeth Broderick explains, “Australian women are among the most highly educated in the world, yet their participation in paid work remains comparatively low.”

The gender pay gap is a very complicated issue, but it mainly encompasses two problems that need to be sorted out soon:

  • Women still receive lower salaries for the same or similar jobs as men.
  • Women tend to go for less demanding roles which are generally lower paid.

These two parts of the problem have very different solutions. In the first case, some possible resolutions include eliminating salary negotiations, ensuring greater transparency, making changes to the recruitment process, and reinforcing the law.

Measures to reduce the gap in roles include cultural changes, equal paternity and maternity leave, as well as more work flexibility for both men and women.

6 Powerful tips to close the gender pay gap

For more information, take a look at these 6 powerful tips, that will help close the gender pay gap for good:

1. Mind your language

One of the reasons why solving inequality is so complex is because it is deeply rooted in our culture. That’s why sometimes we may not even notice acts of sexism. It can be challenging to identify and assess them, so the first environment where changes are needed, is in early childhood education.

Although there is so much vital work to do in this space, we would make significant improvements if we paid more attention to the language we use and transmit to the youngest generations.

Parents and educators should have conversations with children about gender equality. They should pay particular attention to the phrases and expressions they continuously repeat to them, since they will perpetuate in the language they will speak in the future.

2. Cultural change needed on gender pay gap

There is no gender equality without cultural transformation. And the shift is slow. Whilst old companies may have a sexist culture, missing out on female talent, it is much easier to fix a culture in the early stages, before it is well established.

Sexist comments from bosses to employees, or among colleagues, are absolutely intolerable. If that happens to you, there are several things you can do depending on the situation. You can answer in a polite but firm way, or you can reply with a joke about the point that makes them uncomfortable. You can also take that person for a private talk or tell the problem to a member of HR. Alternatively, you can simply walk away, but whatever you do, remember it is not about you.

3. Subsidize pre-primary school

One of the main problems for parents after the maternity and paternity leave is that they need someone to look after their child. In many cases, women are still the ones to get extra time off work or flexible working hours to look after the child, leading to lower salaries.

If governments subsidized education before primary school, it would be much cheaper or even free for families who struggle with both parents working full-time. This measure would also prevent many parents, normally the one with a lower salary, from quitting their jobs to stay at home with the child.

4. Transparency is key

Many injustices in the workplace, including the gender pay gap, could be sorted if companies were more transparent. Businesses should be forced to make public certain information such as the percentage of male and female employees and salaries.

Some countries are already implementing transparency measures to reinforce wage equality laws. Private and public British companies with 250 employees or more are obliged to reveal the average difference between male and female salaries. Australia recently instructed gender pay gap reporting for most companies. In Germany, a new law will oblige businesses with more than 500 employees to reveal their pay gaps. Iceland is forcing companies to prove they are paying male and female staff equally.

If revelations in the reports find that business people are paying men and women differently, for the same or similar jobs, they will be openly ashamed. And by embarrassing companies, they should move towards closing the divide.

5. Eliminate salary negotiations to shut gender pay gap

“Research shows that women are more reticent than men to negotiate their salary offers,” according to Harvard Business Review. And the reasons are even more surprising. Researchers have examined the why, and “the answer has more to do with how women are treated when they negotiate than it has to do with their general confidence or skills at negotiation.”

According to these experiments, “male evaluators penalized female candidates more than male candidates for initiating negotiations; female evaluators penalized all candidates for initiating negotiations.”

Instead of forcing women to negotiate their salaries and bonuses, salary negotiations should be banned. And this practice would also simplify the salary transparency process for employers and companies.

6. Reward companies with equality culture

From the business perspective, it may be complex to put into practice certain procedures, such as total transparency, equal maternity and paternity leaves, or to eliminate salary negotiations. To encourage companies to take these important steps though, governments could reward organizations that favor equality and incorporate it into their culture.

All companies should incorporate gender equality as part of their culture. They should also introduce practices that favor equality from the recruitment process, all the way through to the top management. And this would be the case more often if governments rewarded companies for doing so.

Gender pay equality can benefit everyone. Companies with a reputation for gender equality could attract and retain much more highly qualified candidates. If pay became fairer for women, the responsibilities of earning a living to pay the bills could be shared more equally throughout households.

For parents, it wouldn’t necessarily fall to the mother to stay at home and look after the kids. With more equal pay opportunities, this gives women a higher chance to earn an income that will enable them to support their family. It could also allow both parents to be available to their children on a more equal basis. Overall, it means women don’t have to miss out on as many career opportunities and it would be positive for the country’s economy.

About Maria Onzain

Maria Onzain is a writer and the founder of Travel for Food Hub. She loves telling stories about innovation, entrepreneurship, women and education among others. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring new cultures and sharing her adventures as a foodie traveler.

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