According to an Oxfam Australia report released on the 14th of July, at the current rate of decline in wage equality between men and women, it will take 75 years for the principle of equal pay for equal work to be realised worldwide.
The report urges the G20 world leaders, meeting in Australia later this year, to make gender equality a priority in their discussions.
We often hear the staggering statistics and the deeply disappointing conversations:
- Women are paid less than men. In Australia the pay gap has hovered between 15 to 18% in the last two decades and not much is changing
- Women do most of the unpaid labour
- Women are over-represented in part-time and casual work
- Women are discriminated against in the household, markets and institutions
And the existence of unconscious biases means that, “As men get more successful they are better liked. As women get more successful [and] more powerful, they are often less liked by men and women.” Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has been very successful in bringing this issue to the global arena. Check out her TED Talk So we leaned in…now what? http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_so_we_leaned_in_now_what
So rather than sitting around and waiting, hoping that our children and our children’s children will not have to hear the same statistics and feel the same sense of disappointment, let’s stand up, lean in and rise up today.
Here are 4 ways we all can:
1. Conscious Conversations Circles
It’s all about raising awareness through conversations. I liked to call these conscious conversations. We can change the world just by having conscious conversations.
Conversation brings awareness and with awareness brings empathy and understanding. The most important aspect to these conversations is to reach out to both men and women equally. Gender equality is not merely a women’s issue. And it’s not about blaming men. It’s a societal and systemic issue. It is everyone’s issue so let’s bring everyone into the conversation.
2. Speak up! For the sake of gender equality everywhere
Have you ever:
Undervalued your salary in a job interview?
Remained quiet when you had an important comment to make?
Intended to ask for a pay rise but you just couldn’t find the words to say it?
Be mindful of how you respond in these common circumstances and never undervalue yourself. Become an equality advocate. You only need to take small steps to stand up for the sake of equality and fairness everywhere and for the sake of closing the pay gap 75 years earlier than expected.
3. If you are a female leader - let down your robe
I once heard Christine Nixon, the first female Chief Commissioner in any Australian state police force, talk about female leaders letting down their robe to let younger women in. As women in senior and management positions, she said that it’s important to show and guide women to leadership and senior positions. We need positive female role models. There is a profound power in women encouraging, supporting and collaborating with one another. The more women at the top encouraging other women, the more women we will actually see at the top.
4. Let’s fix the system not try to ‘fix’ women
Both men and women in senior positions need to stand up within their organisations and advocate for change. It’s not about women adapting to the current system. It’s about the current system adapting to having both men and women in the workplace. Raising female participation in the workplace and closing the pay gap is not just important for women, but it is also important for business and for the economy.