Lindiwe Sebesho. Supplied
Women are redefining pathways to power, re-architecting industries, sparking movements and solving the most pressing problems of our time. Despite this, much more effort is required to address the issues that result in gender-based pay inequity in corporate South Africa.

In light of Women’s Month, we again have to shine the light on where we are going wrong with this issue.

* Equal pay for equal work still a fairy tale. According to the ILO Global Wage report’s 2018/19 statistics, women, on average, continue to be paid 28 percent less than men.

The report covered 70 countries and 80 percent of wage employees worldwide. An even more alarming statistic is that South Africa has the world’s highest wage inequality overall.

The responsibility of reducing inequality in wage distribution, as well as protecting and advancing persons who were disadvantaged by unfair discrimination, lies with employers.

* The motherhood penalty. This refers to research that shows that women see a significant reduction in earnings after having children, something that men are not subjected to.

The magnitude of the drop in earnings varies from country to country, but research has found that there is a high correlation between the intensity of cultural expectations of women to stay at home with children and the degree to which they experience the motherhood penalty.

Research has indicated that working moms are more productive workers. Despite this, there are many managers who avoid hiring younger women to get around maternity leave and the belief that women “aren’t as good at their jobs” when they return to the workplace.

It is advisable for women, particularly skilled women, to seek out employers who are committed to the advancement of women and illustrate this through favourable policies for working moms, value family and offer flexible work arrangements without a pay penalty. It’s also important to make sure that women have the support they need at home, as child-rearing isn’t a women’s-only job.

The report further highlights the fact that women tend to not always ask to be paid what they are worth.

Those in leadership positions need to use their authority to promote and advocate for women. It is imperative that we lead deliberate and structured approaches towards combating gender inequality in corporate South Africa.

Lindiwe Sebesho is an executive committee member of the South African Reward Association.

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