Gaping gender gap

| Updated on January 20, 2018

Guess where India ranks in the yearly Global Gender Gap index prepared by the World Economic Forum? In 2015, India ranked a lowly 108 among 145 countries surveyed. The index highlights how well a country is leveraging its female talent pool based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators. Iceland does very well on this count and is ranked number one, followed by Norway and Finland. The US ranks 28 and China 91. But then again, India has actually improved its ranking by six places — in 2014 it was ranked 114 but climbed up largely because representation of women in politics and ministerial berths in the country improved. However, the bad news is the average annual pay for women is way behind what men earn — it is stuck at what men earned 10 years ago.

Fair pay laws

Starting this year, a strict fair pay law has kicked into force in California. Under this, Californian companies are required to justify pay differences between male and female employees doing “substantially similar” work. Earlier legislations only required men and women carrying same designations to be paid equally. But the law passed in October 2015 even addresses the language loophole that companies might exploit to pay men and women differently. In California, women make only 84 cents to every dollar that a man earns. Media reports suggest that even before the law could kick in, a host of companies began reviewing their salary payouts. For instance, cloud computing firm Salesforce spent $3 million in adjusting its payroll to introduce pay parity.

Best companies for women

The Avtar Group, a workplace inclusion expert firm, has joined forces with Working Mother Media to bring to India the latter’s 30-year old 100 Best Companies for Women survey and ranking. To be called the 2016 Working Mother and Avtar Best Companies for Women, the survey-cum-benchmarking project will ask Indian companies to do self-tracking, self-reporting, self-evaluating and self-correcting at a time when they are losing their female workforce at the rate of 11 per year. The project kicks off on International Women’s Day and the 2016 Best Companies for Women list will be announced in November 2016 at the Global Advancement of Women Conference in India.

‘Sick’ leave

Is it set to become a trend? This year, a few companies have introduced a ‘period policy’ in the workplace. Coexist, a company in Bristol, UK, has decided to give female staff time off from work during their painful monthly cycle. The community interest firm says it has done this to “create a happier and healthier working environment” to its largely female workforce as well as to break the taboo around menstrual health. In Delhi, feminine hygiene products maker Wet & Dry Personal Care, which makes the Everteen brand of products, too has announced a similar policy. Mumbai-based firm Shree Lakshmi Steel Industries has been granting period leave to its female employees since 2010.

Published on March 07, 2016

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