ADP’s recently released study People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View reveals that only 65% of women in India received a pay rise or bonus when taking on extra responsibilities or a new role compared to 70% of men. This indicates that women are being left behind when it comes to financial compensation during COVID-19 and HR experts say the answer is not as simple as increasing salaries or flexibility.
This disparity exists despite the study finding that men and women were just as likely to take on additional responsibilities or a new role due to COVID-19-related impacts on their organizations.
Yvonne Teo, Vice President of HR in Asia Pacific of the payroll solutions provider, ADP, explains that bonuses are just one of many factors that have contributed to an increased gender pay gap since the onset of the pandemic.
“The gender pay gap is an issue that goes much deeper than salaries. There are many factors to consider such as the social dynamics of society, what government support is available, and the culture of a workplace,” Teo said.
He shared, as an HR leader, he is often asked what businesses can do about an issue that is so interlinked to broader society. His take: “As the saying goes, what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed.”
Teo recommended having real-time, accurate, accessible, and transparent payroll data is critically important.
“It means organizations can create greater visibility of the issue and establish a benchmark to monitor progress,” Teo added.
However, as Teo highlighted, narrowing the differences in employees’ pay slips is just a small part of the solution as gender parity needs to form part of every decision a business makes.
To effectively and sustainably eradicate a pay gap, there needs to be a long-term strategy over three or five years with targets and frameworks in place that cover the employee life cycle, from talent acquisition and promotions to departure and internal education.
Without a dedicated and continued focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion across the business, Teo predicts, we will see a repeat of the backward steps taken during COVID-19 on gender disparity.
ADP’s study also reveals there is still judgment for taking advantage of flexible working arrangements with 71 % of females feeling judged and 64 % being the estimate for males.
“There has been a lot of talk since the beginning of COVID-19 about increased flexibility to support women – particularly mothers and carers – to stay and progress in their careers. But flexibility is not a cure-all. To address the gender pay gap it’s just as important, if not more important, for men to also embrace flexible working and take on more household responsibilities from their female partners,” said Teo.
Rahul Goyal, Managing Director, ADP India, said there are implications on employee satisfaction if companies do not solve the issue, which is particularly challenging amidst the current demand for talent. He informs how employees’ perceptions of fairness play a critical part in their sense of loyalty and dedication, which in turn impact productivity and talent retention, and more widely, reputation. If women start to feel that their efforts are being overlooked, especially in reference to their male colleagues, that’s a situation employers will want to avoid at all costs.
With the uncertainties of the pandemic still looming, organizations and leaders must re-check their D&I initiative and ensure that equal pay continues. Recognizing the disparities and working towards eradicating them is one of the critical ways to retain their talent and build an inclusive work culture.