The gender wage gap issue continues to receive much attention. On the one hand, the focus on the inequities of pay differences between male and female workers is a good thing. On the other hand, the fact that the pay gap divide continues to be an issue is exceptionally frustrating.
The differences in wages between male and female jobs, or male and female employees, is not a recent phenomenon. In Ontario, gender-based wage parity is legislated in several statutes, such as the Pay Equity Act and the Employment Standards Act. The latter, in Ontario, speaks to the requirement of equal pay for equal work. This means that a male person and a female person doing substantially the same job must be paid at the same rate for that job. Recent amendments to the Employment Standards Act (under Bill 148) identify that the words ‘substantially the same’ do not mean identical. The jobs can be similar, based on skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.
The Pay Equity Act of Ontario speaks directly to the issue of the value of jobs based on a gender-neutral analysis of all jobs in an organization, based on skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. This piece of legislation focuses on the value of jobs within an organization in order to address the inequality of employees in ‘traditionally’ male job classes being paid more than those in ‘traditionally’ female job classes.
None of this is new! The Pay Equity Act has been in place since the late 1980’s. The Employment Standards Act language referring to equal pay for equal work (prior to Bill 148) has been in place for decades as well.
Why are we still talking about this?
Apparently, not much has changed.
A recent headline, as reported by the CBC, provides an interesting view of the impact of budget-based decision-making on gender differences. The article explores a Swedish budgeting decision to clear snow-covered streets for pedestrians before clearing roads because there are more females than males who walk. The connections to wage gap parity may not be clear from the outset, but the article does explore how the Swedish model can be applied to the Canadian federal budget allocation process, based on the impact budget decisions have on female and male citizens.
From this article we see that Canada holds a high ranking on the gender pay gap differentials. Again, this provides us with a clear indicator that the legislative approaches that are currently in place to address gender pay imbalances continue to be necessary and relevant. However, these approaches would benefit from some additional support and changes in decision-making perspectives.
Perhaps, as noted in the article, it is time to include a different approach that focuses on the impact of decisions made when preparing budgets and compensation plans.
What would happen if organizations were able to apply an impact analysis, based on gender, aligned with principles of pay equity and equal pay?
Maybe, just maybe, something might change.
- As a Human Resources practitioner, how would you go about assessing the value of jobs using the principles of job analysis, in your current place of work?
- As an employee, what evidence is there to support wage parity or disparity in your current place of work?
- Provide an analysis that explores the pros and cons of using a decision-making process that includes gender impact, when establishing organizational budgets and/or compensation plans.