Gender Pay Gap Will Make Women Work for Free: Research Highlights This Concern


Recent data from the European Union Commission finds that women in the EU will work for free for the rest of the year because their hourly wages are 16% lower than their male colleagues.

The progress of women in the workplace is going to be set back by at least a decade or even more due to the pandemic. This is not a future trend but a reality that is unfolding as of today. While more and more women are planning to drop out of the workforce, an equally burning concern is the absence of an equal pay structure for those who remain employed and choose to work.

The European Union Commission has raised a red flag about this. As per its most recent dataOpens a new window , reported by Independent, women living in the European Union will work for free for the rest of the year from now onward because the hourly wages for women workers are, on average, 16% lower than their male colleagues. This translates into around two months of their yearly wages. The data further reveals that the European Trade Union Confederation conducted research and found that the EU’s gender pay gap will not close until the next century if countries and companies maintain the same progress rate.

Sheila Flavell, COO, FDM Group, comments, “These new figures indicate that there is still a long way to go in ensuring women are given the same opportunity and pay as men when it comes to their own career. What’s more, whilst there is no telling how jobs, redundancies and the pay gap will develop in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of a second national lockdown, we can certainly expect part time and hospitality work, both of which tend to be populated more heavily by female workers, to be impacted drastically over the coming weeks.”

Absence of Strong Implementation

Flavell also shares that, “Most worryingly, however, is that due to stalled campaigns launched by individual governments as well as the European bloc not being properly rolled out, the progress of tackling the gender pay gap issue is being put on hold more and more. Since the crisis, gender pay reporting is no longer compulsory. However, FDM Group, announced a median gender pay of −2.1 per cent amidst the pandemic, which we are delighted about. Some organizations will have neglected gender equality measures in order to redistribute their effort towards staying profitable during this difficult time. However, it’s important that said companies remember the value of gender equality, and remain committed to continually building a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

The issue that has led to the escalation, despite awareness of this pay gap, is that the implementation has not been effective. Failed rollouts and shifting priorities by organizations during this pandemic have resulted in the negation of these efforts. Also, as per the report, the second lockdown is expected to hit women working in hospitality and retail hard, but the predominantly male-dominated sectors like construction and manufacturing are still at work.

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The Gender Pay Gap Is Global

The gender pay gap issue is prevalent across the world and is not unique to the EU.

The most recent American Community Survey (ACS) dataOpens a new window from February 2020 showed that the nationwide median earnings for women over the age of 16 average are about 80.1% of men’s median earnings in the same age group. Another research by National Partnership for Women & FamiliesOpens a new window shares this in absolute terms – women in the United States are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual gender wage gap of $10,157. That reflects the situation as it exists as a widening gap. In addition, the wage gap is more significant for most women of colorOpens a new window , indicating a bias in two critical diversity dimensions – gender and race.

As per a World Economic Forum reportOpens a new window in 2020, the gender gap can take several years to close, which differs by region. The report shares that it will take approximately 72 years in South Asia, 95 years in SubSaharan Africa, and 107 years in Central Asia. While the UN report covers these as economies in transition, the gender gaps remain stark.

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Data across the world points to the widening pay gap, which is likely to worsen in the post-pandemic world. Closing the gender pay gap will have to move up on companies’ agendas as issues to address immediately.