British Columbia Takes Steps to Close the Gender Pay Gap

 

By Catherine Skrzypinski April 17, 2019
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​VANCOUVER—While pay for Canadian women in the past 50 years has inched closer to that for Canadian men, the gap between what men and women earn for doing the same jobs continues to be a source of concern across the country, including in British Columbia, Canada.

As a result, lawmakers proposed the Equal Pay Reporting Act to the British Columbia legislature on March 8—International Women's Day. If passed, it would require British Columbia businesses that employ 50 or more people to provide an annual breakdown of bonuses and mean and median regular pay offered to all male and female employees.

"Pay inequality is an issue often talked about and infrequently acted on," Stephanie Cadieux, a member of the legislative assembly from South Surrey, British Columbia, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, these issues affect around 50 percent of the workforce who are not compensated in line with their male counterparts."
A gender pay gap persists in Canada's provinces and territories. The country's current gender pay gap is at 16.1 percent, with women earning around 84 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to a March 2019 survey by Glassdoor.

"The gender pay gap has an impact on women in the tech sector," said Elizabeth "Libby" Stewart, head of professional services and research at 7Geese, an HR tech company in Vancouver. She spoke April 3 at the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia & Yukon's HR Conference and Tradeshow 2019. "There's no magic pill in closing the pay gap."

Case Study: 7Geese

British Columbia's technology sector generates more than $23 billion Canadian dollars in revenue and $15 billion in gross domestic product, according to the Vancouver Economic Commission. 7Geese is a part of Vancouver's burgeoning tech scene.

Talent Collective—a Vancouver-based organization focused on helping tech companies develop, grow and reward talent—recently teamed up with 7Geese to gather employee feedback on fair and equal pay. It also assessed that data to learn what the company could do to make compensation more transparent.

"Companies are seeing a benefit in being more transparent about pay inequality," Talent Collective's co-founder Annika Reinhardt said.

Stewart said 7Geese has a young workforce, as most of its employees are in their late 20s and early 30s. The tech company's gender breakdown is 63 percent men and 37 percent women.

According to the data, around 42 percent of 7Geese employees say they feel fairly compensated. The company's unadjusted pay gap—the raw difference between men's and women's earnings—hovers around 17 percent. Both percentages leave room for improvement, Stewart noted.

In response, 7Geese's leadership is reviewing its current salary structure and will assess where in the range employees are positioned and why, Stewart stated. It will also use career success profiles to help employees understand how to grow and develop in their jobs and within the organization.

"A success profile is a job description on steroids," Stewart explained. Success profiles "are a stronger set of guidelines that take into account the necessary motivations, skills, behaviors, knowledge and experiences that define success."

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Introduction to the Global Human Resources Discipline]

The Importance of Negotiation

Another way to close the gender wage gap is to train women on how to negotiate better salaries and benefits.

A recent Langer Research Associates survey report, based on the What Women Want poll of more than 1,000 women in the U.S., showed that 64 percent of respondents said they did not try to negotiate their pay the last time they were hired. But out of those who did negotiate, 71 percent said they were successful.

A notable statistic from the 7Geese data showed that both male and female employees at the company said they felt comfortable speaking about and negotiating compensation with their managers.

"This is a big piece of 7Geese's culture—it pays off to negotiate," Reinhardt added.  

Catherine Skrzypinski is a freelance writer in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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