The Canadian news magazine Maclean’s came up with a great idea recently: selling two different versions of the current issue, one for men, sold at a higher price, and one for women. The magazine wanted to draw attention to the gender-based pay gap issue. Proceeds from the ‘male issue’ will be donated to the scholarship fund for an Indigenous woman.
It’s always been my firm belief that when two people (regardless of sex, size, skin colour, etc.) perform the same type of work, they both must be paid the same. Anything else wouldn’t make sense – even animal experiments have shown that animals become jealous and furious when one of their buddies is given a better reward.
In one of my own lines of work, conference interpreting, every member of the interpreting team (men, women, different languages) is paid the same daily fee. It was like that forty years ago, and it still holds true today. Why is it so difficult to apply this principle to all jobs?
If you ask me, it all comes down to greed. Companies, including those who are swimming in money, are always looking for ways to cut costs and corners. And any ‘excuse’ (e.g., “Oh, she’s just a woman.”) will do.
I think there is only one solution: any employer found to apply different pay rates to the exact same job description on the basis of gender or other criteria that an individual cannot change should face disastrous fines – that is, fines that really hurt even the wealthiest among them.
This will require, of course, governments to put in place tougher rules on transparency in both the private and public sectors – nothing less than full disclosure on wages, salaries and pay packages will do. This would also help to address the other pay-related issue, that of proportionality. With full-disclosure transparency, companies would find it exceedingly difficult to justify paying an executive, say, 150 times as much as another employee who is further down in the pecking order, but who actually works more and longer hours, and to greater effect, than the executive.