Equal pay for equal work, irrespective of the gender of the worker, is the legitimate right of all employees/ labours/ workers across all industries globally. But is the term “EQUAL PAY” has been restricted only to a concept of fairness or is it too surreal to take a concrete shape in reality? We have to or rather we need to find out.
Gender discrimination has always played a major role in balancing the payment structure to the employees. Salary bandwidth is a myth when it comes to offering same pay scale to a male employee and a female employee who are engaged in similar kinds of roles with fairly similar skill set, similar educational credentials and similar intellect. A wage gap exists. This is a situation which needs to be addressed, rather than being put into the back burner. We can say that The United States has moved in that direction pretty faster than other countries with the late president John F. Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act in 1963, which has made the wage discrimination almost illegal in the same organization for employees doing similar kind of work.
The work flow pattern across all industries, mostly, is not mapped correctly. So it often hinders the organization from delving deep into the job role of most of the female employees without being biased. The substantial equality in roles often gets overlooked. I have personally seen this happening in my decade old career as a Human Resource professional. Sometimes the industry is run by family set ups or by a management who do not see eye to eye with the policy of paying fairly to both the sexes, to them Women Employees are always challenged when it comes to intellect and the Male Employees are always the star in optimising the organisational goal. In India the scenario is extremely bleak and daunting. Women get paid 20 % less than men, however there is no dearth of talent in the female fraternity. I was totally moved and felt encouraged when in an interview the Numero Uno actress of Indian Film Industry Deepika Padukone confessed in a candid free wheel chat with fellow colleague Neha Dhupia that she does not like to discuss or disclose figures of her income but certainly her efforts has been given same or maybe a little higher monetary acclamation than her male counter parts. Whereas another famous actress of the same fraternity said that she does not mind the payment disparity and after making a mental calculation she said she is happy with what she gets. But Madam, this is not the question of someone’s personal happiness or contentment, this is a raging issue when most of us middle class women, who do not have a royal background or a palace to boast off, face wage gap after putting in same amount of labour with same or higher degree of sincerity and have similar intellectual capacities. According to the latest MSI (Monster Salary Index) men earned median gross hourly salary of Rs.231 while the median gross hourly salary of women is restricted to Rs.184.8.
Do we need to ponder over this right now? Yes we do need to form more pragmatic and robust policies of payment to bridge the gap and bring a positive change in perception of healthy work culture and fostering equal opportunities.
In most cases, equal pay is a dream, because equal opportunities are not distributed. A lady working as a ground level staff , in mid level or in the senior management has to go through a great deal of grill of being objectified, mostly, and she has to constantly provide testimonials of her capacities in her role, and the ratio is much higher than her male counterpart. But why? Today when we are standing as a global village, should this discrimination between sexes exist? Aren’t we educated enough to look above the gender and perceive and respect an employee’s contribution or performance, without those pairs of jaundiced eyes? An employee should be hired and subsequently treated only as an employee, irrespective of his or her gender, with same pay package and perks, for the required skills or degrees he or she has which is needed for the job. Only 10% industries in India has a fair wage policy while we are alarmingly lacking in pace in creating an equal opportunity ambience across the country.
As a woman, I have felt the need for equal payment structure in my career and I am sure all working women feel the same need. Our labour, our efficiency, our intellect need to be validated and that too in terms of pay package.
The government needs to intervene, the movers and shakers of India’s economy need to come forward and set examples by honouring the female employees across the nation by mitigating this wage discrepancy. A strong nation needs strong work force and a strong work force needs unity and equality. Similar professional opportunities and similar payment structure can surely bring in a whiff of change in this gloomy situation.
Let us all try in our small way to ensure that it happens and take a practical grounded route to demand our legitimate right. No, cribbing and complaining won’t help. We have to rise and shine together, the big line between the sexes has to be erased, permanently.