While research shows that complete gender equality, with the efforts being put in now, will only be possible in 2095, the gender pay gap will only be totally bridged in 50 years.
Despite the benefits of gender equality released through research results yearly, the gender pay gap has widened over the years. In South Africa the gap between males and females is standing at 35%. This means that females get in a year what males get in eight months – meaning women work for free for four months as opposed to their male peers.
There are several factors that contribute to this gap widening. The ACCA report, gender diversity to boost business performance, highlights the lack of commitment from companies to gender equality. This one barrier is by far the most contributor. “Women with a degree earn on average 30% less than their male peers with similar levels of education, whereas the gap is lower for those with a basic or high-school education”, says Sandra Burmeister, CEO of the Landelahni Recruitment Group. In the past the pay gap was attributed to differences in skills and the experience women brought to the labour market; research shows that women that have the similar skills and the same qualifications still earn less than their male peers.
The pay gap seems to widen with age. The WageIndicator survey indicates that women under 25 years the gender pay gap is 15%. Between the ages of 25 and 34 years, it widens to 19%. This widening trend accelerates in the middle-age group (35-50 years) to reach 25%. Finally, during the later years of their working career, the earnings gap widens at a slower rate, with women over 50 experiencing a pay gap of 27%.
According to the World Economic Forum, closing the male-female employment gap would have huge economic benefits, boosting GDP by as much as 16%. By drawing on the full complement of available talent at all levels of the organisation, particularly in top leadership teams, companies have been shown to produce better financial results, particularly as opportunities grow in the knowledge economy. It makes sound business sense for pay inequality and job barriers for women to be removed.
There is an influx of females entering the finance profession; approximately half of ACCA students are female. The growing numbers of women accountants and their ever growing influence is perhaps most keenly evident among ACCA students and members in Singapore, where a staggering 75% are estimated to be female. It is imperative that this team entering the field finds the ground cultivated, females have proven their ambition and their ability to produce profitable results as much as their male peers. It is only fair that they get the same remuneration.
If research results have proven the link between women participation and improved financial performance then this gap is not just an issue of compliance, but it has become a moral issue that needs to be looked into and amended quickly.