The gender pay gap has deepened during the Covid-19 pandemic with women being left behind when it comes to financial compensation, according to ADP’s study People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View.

As per the study, in India, 65 per cent of women received a pay rise or bonus for taking on extra responsibilities or a new role compared to 70 per cent of men.

Human Resources experts say that 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 pandemic induced impacts on their organisations.

Yvonne Teo, Vice President of HR in Asia Pacific of the payroll solutions provider, ADP, explained that bonuses is 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.

“As a HR leader, I’m often asked what businesses can do about an issue that is so interlinked to broader society. As the saying goes, what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. Having real-time, accurate, accessible and transparent payroll data is critically important. It means organisations can create greater visibility of the issue and establish a benchmark to monitor progress," Teo added.

However, Teo highlighted that narrowing the differences in terms of employees’ pay slips is just a small part of the solution as gender parity needs to form part of every decision a business makes.

“It doesn’t happen overnight. 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" Teo said.

“Without a dedicated and continued focus on diversity, equity and inclusion across the business, we will see a repeat of the backward steps taken during Covid-19 on gender disparity,” Teo added.

Furthermore, as per the study there is still judgment for taking advantage of flexible working arrangements. 71 per cent of females feel judged for doing so as compared to 64 per cent of 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”,” Teo said.

“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," Teo added.

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."

“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,” Goyal explained.

“The impacts of Covid-19 have shown how far we still have to go in eradicating systemic inequality and closing the gender pay gap," Goyal further said.