Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Sixty-one years ago, brave South African women marched to the Union Buildings to protest against apartheid pass laws. Today we celebrate these women and their stand against injustice.

But there's still much to be done when it comes to economic transformation and closing the gender wage gap - and companies prioritising this with other transformation initiatives.

According to Accenture's report Getting to Equal - Closing the Gender Pay Gap, it is anticipated that the gap will be closed by 2044 in developed countries and only by 2066 in developing countries.

How can you drive change?

Highlight bias, both conscious and unconscious. A good example of gender bias is the negative reaction to women asking for a raise. According to research published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, women who initiated talks about a raise were judged more harshly than men who did the same. Another study found that men evaluating requests for a raise were more brutal when dealing with women than men.

The study concluded that "perceptions of niceness and demandingness explained resistance to female negotiators". Highlighting the reality of these perceptions and pushing to have programmes that address these blind spots can help drive awareness and change behaviours.

Encourage your organisation to become more mom-friendly. With many mothers pursuing careers as well as family life, more flexible ways of work should be allowed. This is especially important for single parents who juggle breadwinning and child-rearing. They should be encouraged and supported to pursue their career while working from home. This could save them a great deal in nanny or babysitting costs.

If you're in a position to recruit staff and decide on remuneration, you can also play an important role in driving change when it comes to paying women in your organisation equally.

In this respect, you can:

Encourage your organisation to implement a regular qualifications and skills audit as part of performance assessments and compare women's achievements to those of their male colleagues. Compare these metrics with pay and determine if there are any gaps.

Review recruitment and promotion processes. How much talent development goes into your male and female employees? How often do you engage female employees outside the structures of quarterly performance reviews? Pay attention to the impact social capital in the workplace has on who gets hired or promoted and why.

Encourage pay transparency. Ensuring that people know what their peers get will arm them with the facts to get things moving towards equal pay.

When it comes to transformation and economic inclusion, championing equal pay is paramount. It's something men and women need to focus on and drive. This means fighting for equal pay and ensuring that women are given more control over their finances. Transformation in the workplace shouldn't simply be focused on the number of women v men on the payroll. It's only once women have economic power that we can talk about a truly transformed economy.

Tsamela is the founder of piggiebanker.com. Follow her on Twitter @DineoTsamela

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