Many times over in my professional experience, I have seen gender pay disparity happen in workplaces. The notion of gender pay gap is the difference between women’s earnings and men’s earnings expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. The idea behind equal pay for equal work is a concept of labour rights which suggests that individuals in the same workplace, doing the same job should be given equal pay. It is commonly used in the context of sexual discrimination, in relation to the gender pay gap.
Studies show that this gender pay gap exists because of a combination of economic, socio-cultural and educational factors. For instance, from a socio-cultural perspective women’s work is traditionally more undervalued. From an economic perspective it starts from the industrial level where fields that attract more women (for example education, healthcare, nonprofits) traditionally pay less income. From an Education (though this is arguably becoming less relevant) i.e. that men tend to have wider ranging qualifications up to degree level and beyond, in addition to educational networks to draw on.
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This gender pay gap will definitely affect the productivity in the work place as it will leave the individual concerned with a sense of being undervalued, which culminates into such individual or group of persons becoming less productive employees. It often leads to early exit out of the workplace, and the career ladder. The effect of this pay gap affects both the mental and physical health.
The Nigerian Constitution provides for equal pay for equal work without discrimination on the basis of sex, however there is no enacting law to make this effective. There are even fewer litigations thus limiting jurisprudence on the matter. The Gender and Equal opportunities bill that may have touched on the issue was voted down by the Nigerian Senate in 2016.
A major reason for gender pay discrimination is the absence of a regulating legislation, and with government becoming less of an employer, private sector is left to decide workplace policies to deal with; the ‘motherhood penalty’ women taking time out of the labour force to have children. Studies have shown that poorer negotiating ability by women is a factor accompanied with the discomfort in asking for fair dues.
Also International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention makes provision for equal remuneration for equal value without discrimination based on sex. At the 2017 UN Commission on the Status of Women ILO joined forces with UN Women to create a new initiative; Equal Pay Platform of Champions to increase awareness and reach out to policy and decision takers. The Equal Pay Initiative Coalition (EPIC) is a multi-stakeholder coalition advocating for the achievement of SDG 8 by 2030.
Closing this gap is critical for organizations that want to perform at the highest levels. At the Organizational level, these organizations can conduct pay audits, ensure hiring and promotions are fair, make sure women have equal opportunity for advancement, increase women’s negotiating skills and make it a norm for women to negotiate. There should be transparent and objective structures. At the Government Level, they ensure national and international laws made against inequality are enforced locally and monitoring of wage differences across sectors periodically.