(Her)story and Statistics About International Pay Day

Last week for International Equal Pay Day (September 18), Esther-Gail Fraser, an intern at CorpCare, spoke to Dr. Margo Thomas, CEO and President of Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI) about 5 ways your business can close the gender pay gap. To further support why your business should prioritise equal pay, her is some (her)story and statistics about the gender pay gap.

Important Definitions

Equal Pay: Principle of non-discrimination in compensation for work. It states that pay should be based on the kind and quality of work done and not according to the age, race, sex, religion, political association, ethnic origin, or any other individual or group characteristic unrelated to ability, performance, and qualification. (Business Dictionary)

Gender Pay/Wage Gap: The gender pay gap is a measure of what women are paid relative to men for the same value of work (Economic Policy Institute)

1. Why is Equal Pay so important?

PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that by fully closing the gender pay gap, we would experience gains to the global GDP that could exceed US$6 trillion and women’s earnings could increase by US$2 trillion.

Guaranteeing equal pay allows for the economic empowerment of women. Equal Pay provides more opportunities for health & wellness, education, use of infrastructure and resources, access to digital technologies and access to finance. In this way, equal pay creates a virtuous cycle, of positively impacting those in a woman’s community and the generations that come after her.

For companies, closing the gender pay gap can only be beneficial. “A CSRI study shows that women who receive equal pay at all levels of the company receive higher returns on equity, higher valuations, and higher payout ratios with no discernible differences in risk-taking. Additionally, companies that employ more women in top management and board positions better reflect the profiles of their customers and employees. They also benefit from more diverse views when solving problems, rank higher on indications of organizational cooperation and health, and report higher profitability and returns on equity” (WEF).

2. The Numbers Don’t Lie

Globally, the International Labour Organization (ILO), estimates that the gender wage gap sits at 20%. However, there are large variations between countries, from a high of 45% to hardly any difference.

TheWorld Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2016)reports that Jamaica is ranked 82nd out of 144, with a female ratio of 0.63 and thus a gender wage gap of 37% in its assessment of wage equality for equal or comparable work.

To give more regional context, Trinidad and Tobago was ranked 76th out of 114 countries in wage equality between men and women for similar work. In the same study, Barbados was ranked 38th out of 114 countries.

While it should be celebrated that Jamaica has 46% more women than men in positions of legislature, senior officials and management, it appears that women’s occupation of the majority of these senior positions is still insufficient to ensure equal pay. Further, women’s representation becomes significantly less equal to male representation as we climb up the “ladder” to the c-suite, board room, parliament, senate and so on. investment ….

Unfortunately, achievements in education have not translated into equal or higher pay for women in Jamaica despite the fact that women significantly outpace men in academic achievement and degree holdings.

3. Does it get better with career progression?

Largely, No.

The gap widens as women progress in their career. Firstly, women suffer from an opportunity gap, which sees women moving up the career ladder at a slower pace than men. Secondly, statistics show that women at the executive level make approximately $0.95 to every dollar a man makes when data is controlled and make $0.69 per dollar when data is not controlled. Lastly, “men are twice as likely to be directors or executives than women by age 45 or older. A total of 6% of women make it into an executive-level role at any time of their lives while 12% of men do” (Payscale)

Additionally, women suffer from the ‘motherhood penalty’ or the ‘childbearing penalty’. Research suggests that having a child (or having the potential to bear children) is the primary cause for the gender wage gap as employers fear that women will need a more flexible schedule to accommodate for their children or may be less devoted to their work. On the contrary, men do not experience compensation after becoming parents, and some are actually paid more after having children.

4. Looking Ahead: Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected equal pay?

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed some progress. The coronavirus pandemic has introduced an increase in work from home arrangements, and layoffs for some industries and occupations. Statistically, it shows that women have a higher risk of suffering from loss of earnings or a reduction in their earnings. Women also suffer from societal bias and assumptions resulting in many being pushed to certain occupations. Therefore contributing to women making a larger percentage of jobs in industries such as Community and Social Services, Education, Office & Administrative Support and Personal & Care Services, which are more likely to be suspended, laid off or forced to work reduced hours.

Women are also more likely to take time off work, or even resign from their positions, in order to take care of children who are no longer in school and other family members.

5. A Last Word

Despite the progress still to be made, globally we have seen a 2% improvement from 2019 and 7% improvement from 2015. We want to encourage companies to move with the world to produce a more progressive and inclusive society, where all humans, regardless of gender, are valued equally.

Thank you for investing your time to learn about equal pay. We would love to continue this conversation with you and your business, so we can work together to help you better serve your business and your community.

Visit our website or email us at assist@corpcareja.com to learn more about how your organisation can do better, by doing good.


We’ve curated a list of additional resources that can help

ILO - Understanding the gender wage gap

Payscale.com - Whitepaper - How to Advocate for Pay Equity Analysis

Payscale.com - Does pay transparency close the gender wage gap?

WE - Whitepaper - Accelerating Gender Parity in the fourth industrial revolution