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The gender pay gap – inequality continues to impact human resources

Jun 14th, 2019

Human resource and human capital management experts agree – the fact that women are generally paid less than men in the workplace has a detrimental effect on society. As one academic put it – “unfair pay practices perpetuate societal inequalities and keep families in poverty”.

As an industry representative organisation run by, and for HR and HCM professionals, CRS Technologies has a vested interest in monitoring the maturity and overall development of HR.

In South Africa equality is enshrined into the country’s constitution and this includes the workplace.

Any bias or inequality, however applied, and based on race, ethnicity, culture, creed, religion or gender, is outlawed. And so, we have to face facts… there is a shared responsibility between the employer and the employee to ensure equality and to enforce the law where inequality exists or is perpetuated.

Remuneration is a very topical issue at the moment, given the lack of representation of women professionals in key sectors such as IT.

Academics and industry insiders have identified several key themes that form the basis for the global gender pay gap.

According to the SA Board for People Practices, these themes include skills development, careers, modes of work, job changes and pay, wage negotiations and collective bargaining.

The argument made by those protecting the rights of women in the workplace is that skill sets often stereotypically associated with women, including caring and organising, are generally not paid well.

The important point raised by HR practitioners is that it is important to check our personal feelings and bias ‘at the door’ and realise that these could easily become part of the workplace processes and procedures.

There is also the issue of wage negotiations and the role of unions and industry representatives. The argument is that in many instances it is males who are chief negotiators or representatives, which means that they don’t necessarily always have women’s rights and best interests at heart.

Skills availability will remain a challenge to industry and there is some merit in the debate that skills diversity, equality, application and relevance should begin at school level – even primary school level.

The days of some skills sets being only accessible and relevant to one gender over another are over… today, multi-skills, soft skills and professional certification remain in high demand.

We have to bear in mind that HR and employment legislation, including the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, has been put in place to eradicate unfair treatment and that covers remuneration.

The fundamental, especially when it comes to HR and HCM, is that women have as much right as their male counterparts to have their skills recognised, to be remunerated fairly for their skills, their experience, market knowledge and their value to a business as an asset.

That is the premise for what we all strive for – a workplace that enforces and protects equal opportunity, and gender equality.