Pay rate next battleground in ‘war’ between sexes

By Roderick L. Abad | Contributor

WATCH out for Batch 2020. According to a study, women who finish tertiary education at that time will be the first to close the gender pay gap in their lifetimes.

Accenture’s “Getting to Equal 2017” report reveals the urgency to prep up the competency of female undergraduates today to level the playing field—salary-wise—when they enter the “real world” come next three years.

This holds true as they continue to lag behind their male counterparts in terms of managing their future careers, whereas they less likely aspire for leadership positions than the latter (41 percent versus 51 percent); seek a mentor (45 percent versus 58 percent); and choose an area of study that offers high earning potential (27 percent versus 40 percent).

Other reasons for the divergence are women being outdone by men in adopting to new technology quickly (45 percent against  63 percent); continuous learning or acquiring new digital skills (44 percent against 53 percent); and choosing careers that make the most money (50 percent against 100 percent).

“These factors are contributing in terms of decisions being made by women early on. Because these are undergraduates, so the courses that they choose, having a mentor, going to the work force, or raising their ambition are comparable than men,” said Ambe Tierro, senior managing director and lead for Accenture Technology in the Philippines.

Given these observations, it is no doubt that women are found out to be presently underrepresented in the global work force at only 50 percent, compared with 76 percent of working-age men. On the average, a member of Eve’s tribe in paid employment gets an average $100 for every $140 earned by that of Adam’s clan.

Adding to the imbalance is the “hidden pay gap” apparent in the unemployed sector, wherein for every $100 a woman earns, a man ekes $258. “The future work force must be an equal work force. The gender pay gap is an economic and competitive imperative that matters to everyone, and we must all take action to create significant opportunities for women and close the gap more quickly,” she recommended.

The disparity in salary of female employees and their counterparts will be addressed sooner than later if the former leverage on the powerful triumvirate of career accelerators, as per the report.

These include the digital fluency, or the extent to which people use digital technologies to connect, learn and work; career strategy for women to aim high, make informed choices and manage their careers proactively; and tech immersion as the opportunity to acquire greater technology and stronger digital skills to advance as quickly as men.

“These three equalizers, if we’re able to move a needle on each of these strategies, then we think there is hope in terms of closing the gender pay gap,” Tierro said, while citing their potential impact to lessen the pay gap by 35 percent worldwide and add $3.9 trillion to women’s income by 2030.

Another way to achieve equilibrium in the take-home pay of the labor market, according to the research, is the collaborative efforts among the public and private sectors, including academe, to provide critical support.

“Business, government and academia all have an important role to play in closing the gap. Collaboration among these organizations is key to providing the right opportunities, environments and role models to lead the way for change,” said Pierre Nanterme, chairman and CEO of Accenture.

All these initiatives, if taken seriously, will end the difference in pay in developed markets by 2044, or 36 years shorter than 2080 on current trends.

As to developing markets, including the Philippines, on the other hand, it could cut short by over 100 years, achieving the balance by 2066 rather than in 2168 as expected.

“Gender equality is an essential element of an inclusive workplace, and this extends to pay,” the top executive stressed.

On track

PROSPECTS on the “fair share” of both genders in the local labor market, insofar as the basic remuneration is concerned, are encouraging.

“As what’s shown in the global statistics, I think it’s representative in terms of what the Philippines could look like,” Tierro said, referring to the above-cited time needed to close the stipend parity in developing markets.

She is positive that, being an emerging market noted for its fast-growing economy over the past recent years, it’s “very highly possible” for this country to settle the “battle of both sexes” as regards the pay issue earlier than expected.

To do so, women themselves should embrace lifelong learning, taking full advantage of digital and tech opportunities at their universities and work.

College and universities must raise awareness with the female undergraduates about the impact of the course decisions on future pay and advancement.

“It’s not just about taking STEM [science and technology, engineering and math] programs. But obviously, these should be their focus because that’s what the digital world is telling us. The jobs will be more complex. We have the trend about automation, etc., and so our students need to understand that,” the senior managing director and lead for Accenture Technology in the Philippines said.

She added that the government must encourage educators to make the STEM subjects more appealing and accessible to young women at every grade level. While currently there is a focus already with some bills being passed in the legislative system that are promoting equality for women, she noted the immediacy of the state’s move to provide high-speed Internet access to the people.

“Getting this service to as many communities as possible, especially in a market like the Philippines, will do more to get women working than any single action,” Tierro explained. “So I think if our government can do this, it will really advance more women and actually more people in terms of joining the global work force.”

For the private sector’s contribution, business leaders must understand the dynamics that are attracting nonworking women back into the work force.

“It’s an economic imperative,” she said, while citing that the working environments must prioritize a flexible working experience empowered by digital technologies, mentorship programs, lifelong learning and training, as well as transparency and benchmarking around salaries.  Fortunately, these are remarkably consistent across industries in the country at present, she observed.

Accenture, as a company, is a good example that is committed to gender equality, inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.

In fact, 51 percent of its 45,000 employees spread all over its 22 facilities in the Philippines are women across all levels. Also, 48 percent and 47 percent are female executives and managing directors, respectively.

The leading global professional services firm, likewise, pioneered here the implementation of the 120-day maternal vacation for working mothers.

“We continue to study the plight of our women employees and try to adjust our policies and practices so we can encourage more women back, even after taking maternity leave,” Tierro said. “So our retention of women has really improved. And now, we’re trying to see what else can we do because our intent is to lead in the market. We just don’t want to be a compliant. We think this is important to provide that ideal environment for women to thrive and want to go back to work.”

The “Getting to Equal 2017” report had Accenture surveying more than 28,000 women and men, including undergraduates, in 29 countries. The sample included equal representation of men and women, representing three generations (millennials, Gen X and baby boomers) across all work-force levels at companies of varying size. The margin of error for the total sample was approximately
+/- 0.6 percent.

Countries included in the full study were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greater China (includes Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also participated in the survey.


Image credits: Nuvolanevicata | Dreamstime.com


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