Historically, men have consistently earned more than women. In fact, the phrase 'The Gender Pay Gap' has become widely used and studied. But since the early stages of feminism in the 19th century, the popularity of the phrase 'equal pay for equal work' has increased worldwide. It is enshrined in every workplace policy and cemented into many legislatures across the globe.
The Equality Pay Act (US), the Equality Act (UK), and the Equality for Men and Women Act (Malta) are just a few iterations of this. They all strive to ensure that employers pay qualified men and women equally when performing the same work within the same working conditions. This article will discuss whether these regulations help us get equal pay and areas where we still face inequality issues.
The Maltese Constitution states, ' The State shall promote the equal rights of men and women to enjoy all economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.' It strives to 'eliminate all forms of discrimination between the sexes by any person, organisation or enterprise.' Today, it is reflected in the legislation of the 28 EU member states and the additional countries of the European Economic Area. Despite efforts to equalise the pay between men and women, it's essential to reflect on these measures and assess whether they have been fruitful.
The pay gap persists when comparing the earnings of women and men of the same race or ethnicity. However, it is significantly worse for women of colour. Unequal pay goes beyond basic income. It includes:
Global crises further exacerbate this gap - Malta’s unemployment rate peaked at 4.4% during the COVID-19 outbreak, compared to the 3.5% prior year.
The European Union's average disparity between men and women is 14%. As of 2019, Estonia saw a gap of 21%, whereas Luxembourg witnessed a 1.3% difference. Locally, the salariesinmalta.com 2020 Gender Pay Gap Report revealed that Maltese women faced a 10% pay gap - meaning that for every euro earned by a man, women made 90 cents doing the same work. The situation is improving, but progress is plodding. Across the EU, the gap has only decreased by 2% over the last nine years.
Women earn less money in the EU while working and save less for their future. Thus, the gender pay gap continues to affect women throughout their lives, impacting their earnings negatively when in employment and their pension during retirement. Moreover, it leads to women becoming less economically independent than men, further increasing their risk of falling into poverty and social exclusion, even in later life.
Based on salariesinmalta.com's analysis of salary data, only 15% of CEOs are female and have a salary discrepancy of 19%. This extends to other leadership roles, such as CFOs, CTOs and COOs. In addition, women tend to be overrepresented in some sectors and occupations, such as:
Wages in these industries are lower than occupations predominantly carried out by men, even when the same level of experience and education is required. This was also observed through salariesinmalta.com's findings, where women outnumber men by a ratio of 4 for care roles and by twice the amount of their male counterparts for housekeeping positions.
Locally, we have seen the implementation of measures such as the introductions of the Free Childcare Scheme, Breakfast Club and Klabb 3-16, After School Service programmes, and the Maternity Leave Trust.
The European Commission has also pushed for directives such as the Work-Life Balance Directive, including ten days of paternity leave and two months of paid leave for both parents. The Pay Transparency Proposal is another directive that contains measures to enforce equal pay better by increasing awareness about pay conditions within the company.
Lastly, a 2012 proposal for a directive to improve the gender balance on corporate boards is being pushed across the bloc, desiring to see a minimum of 40% of non-executive members of the under-represented sex on company boards. As of February 2022, the file was included in the list of unfinished business carried over to the current European Commission (2020-2024). The proposal is still pending and is now one of the priorities in the European Commission's new EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025.
The fact that the gender pay gap remains a prevalent issue shows how much more work still needs to be done by all of us. Efforts must be made by government policymakers and on a societal level. It calls for a united push to close the gap and bring men and women into a space where they are considered equal. Be the enforcer of change - ensure the gender gap has no place in your organisation.