The arrival of International Women’s Day this Sunday is another occasion to note that the pay equity gap is still alive and well in Canada.
ADP Canada, the human resource services company, released a survey of 755 people across the country that showed that the average salary for men was still 24 per cent higher than for women in 2019.
And taking it further, when asked about additional compensation, such as bonuses or profit sharing, the amount for men was more than twice as much for women. It was the second annual survey that ADP has commissioned and it showed that the average additional compensation for men increased by 25 per cent from 2018 and decreased by 17 per cent for women.
Perhaps not surprising, men were more inclined to believe that organizations compensate men and women equally — 79 per cent compared to 67 per cent of women who believe that is the case. As well, when asked if Canada will achieve pay equality during their careers, men were far more inclined to believe that will be a reality than women were — 53 per cent of men versus 40 per cent of women.
“I think the gender wage gap is a really complex social and legal issue,” said Natalka Haras, ADP Canada’s legal counsel.
But Haras also believes there is increasing evidence decisions are starting to have an effect on the bottom line.
For instance, the survey found that 49 per cent of millennials would consider switching employers if they found out pay equity is not being achieved.
“I think the survey results show that it is becoming a real business imperative for employers to be aware of and take action on the gender wage gap,” Haras said. “It is going to become a question of retaining the best talent.”
She said part of the reason ADP wanted to do the study was to raise awareness of the issue that can be crucial for employers and workers.
“It is also an effective leadership strategy to gather information from the bottom up and understand what people believe about this issue and for employers to make decisions about what to do from the top down,” she said. “We believe this is a crucial issue in today’s workplace.”
Among other things, the survey results confirm the longstanding reality in the booming information technology field that men far outnumber women — 11 per cent of survey respondents who work in the IT field were men and only four percent were women.
Maven, an off-shoot of Tech Manitoba, is an organization focused on attracting, retaining and advancing women in Manitoba’s tech sector. It was formed to address that disparity in Manitoba.
Beth Bell, the chair of Maven’s leadership council and a former senior executive with IBM in Manitoba, said she spent a big part of her career “off the side” of her desk trying to improve the number of women in the IT field.
“Women are still under-represented in many STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers and particularly the IT field,” she said. “Of course pay equity is important. But I spent less time on that and more time on closing the gender gap in the STEM field.”
She said the way to address that is to start early on in the schools.
“Young women need to keep math and science up so they can enter the post-secondary disciplines and once they are there then companies have to actively recruit them,” she said.
Mercer, a consulting firm, also released a survey on Thursday regarding women in the workplace. Among other things, it found Canadian organizations are behind the curve when it comes to company executives being actively involved in diversity and inclusion programs. It also found that whereas 82 per cent of Canadian employers say that their organization’s pay equity analysis addresses both base pay and incentives, only 34 per cent have a formal process to address pay equity risks, which is 10 percentage points below the rest of the world.
ADP’s Haras said she believes Canadians are starting to get into the complexities of the gender gap realities.
“I think what our survey really shows is that Canadian workers are really thinking about these issues and not just in an anecdotal way,” she said. “People are really thinking hard about it.”
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.