Gender equity: it’s on everyone’s lips but vastly misunderstood

By Motlhago Ramoba, Empowerment Advisor at Mindworx Consulting

The late Whitney Houston once made a hit song that still resonates with women around the world: “ I’m every woman, it’s all me”. A road-trip song, a shower anthem, but most importantly, an affirmation. Whitney knew how to speak to us through that entire phrase. But as reality has had it since the beginning of time, women have had it the hardest, especially in the workplace, and especially Black women, no matter which song resonates with our lives.

It’s no secret that the gender pay gap in most countries is a wide one. Partly because of patriarchal views and partly because we hear time and again that women don’t negotiate as hard as men for the salaries they want and deserve. Is this right? No of course not. A job should pay a certain salary based on the skill and expertise of the person doing the work, regardless of their gender or ability to negotiate.

Last year, Ellen Pompeo who plays Meredith Grey in the TV hit Grey’s Anatomy, was crowned the highest earning TV actress. She had just negotiated a $20 million annually salary and a role as show producer. At the time she revealed how anxious she felt before going into the negotiation. She said that men go into negotiations hard and ask for the world. “Women must do the same … rather than worry about being perceived as greedy, women must assess what they believe their worth to be, and ask for it. No one will give it to you if you don’t ask for it.

In January this year, Iceland become the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women, causing quite a stir globally. But this county, like its Nordic cousins, has always been more progressive in its approach to equality at all levels.

The Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum in 2017, which assesses many social elements pertaining to gender equality, including the ratio of women to men in a country’s workforce, the wage equality between women and men for similar work, and the ratio of female professional and technical workers to males, ranked Iceland at number one.

Where did Africa find itself in the rankings? Rwanda ranked 4th, South Africa; 19th but still considerably higher than the global average. Six African countries – Burundi, Benin, Botswana, Rwanda, Namibia and Guinea were recognised for having closed more than 80% of their gap.

It’s an interesting read – everyone should understand who’s doing what when it comes to gender equality.

When it comes to equality in the workplace, the annual report, Women in business: New perspectives on risk and reward published by Grant Thornton International which surveys 5,500 businesses in 36 economies, shows that almost a third (31%) of local companies have no women at all in senior management positions.

The report acknowledges that “globally, the pace of change towards gender equity remains glacial,” but the data does show that developing regions continue to lead the charge on diversity while developed economies lag behind. Eastern Europe performs best, with 38% of senior roles held by women in 2017.

In spite of women making progress in certain regions, there still needs to be work implemented. Women should sit in the forefront of organisations be respected as equals.

At Mindworx, we have an equal opportunity policy, not only for our own workplace but in the work that we do for our clients too, not only around gender issues but all elements of equality.


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