Gender equality is an achievable reality, not improbable ideology

Women are still the lowest paid in the workplace
Women are still the lowest paid in the workplace


Women are still the lowest paid in the workplace.

This is according to the 2020 edition of the Executive Directors: Practices and Remuneration Trends report released by PwC on Tuesday.

The report shows that pay differentials between men and women are a persistent form of gender inequality in the workplace.

“In terms of gender, the primary challenge still relates to representation, with women making up less than one-fifth of the JSE [executive director] population, at 14%, including CEOs and CFOs. This lack of representation is more marked at CEO level, with female representation of just 6%,” reads the report.

PwC’s director for people and organisation division Leila Ebrahimi said although 12 women had been appointed as CEOs of listed companies since May 2019, of the total number of listed companies on the JSE, only 5.8% had female CEOs.

She added that the gap identified painted a bleak picture and made it clear that much work still needed to be done.

Black African, coloured and Indian/Asian representation at CEO level remains low, at a combined 11% of the JSE Top 100 companies.

READ: Recognising women’s role in the struggle

Things are somewhat better at executive director levels, with a combined 28% representation in the JSE Top 100, said Ebrahimi.

PWC’S director for people and organisation division Andréas Horak said on a per industry basis the difference in pay gaps between industries was revealing, ranging from a small 7% in financial services to a hefty 34% in real estate.

There was no female representation at executive level within the energy industry. We were unable to determine a gender pay gap for this industry
Andréas Horak

“There was no female representation at executive level within the energy industry. We were unable to determine a gender pay gap for this industry,” said Horak.

According to the report, the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 found that progress towards closing the gender pay gap had stalled. No country has yet achieved gender parity in wages. The report adds that although there are many initiatives aimed at solving the gender parity problem globally, none has managed to resolve the issue.

Ebrahimi said some companies were still fixated on the reporting of the gender wage gap and the limitations thereof, rather than making a concerted effort to address the actual issues hindering progress.

Professor Anita Bosch, research chair for Women at Work at the University of Stellenbosch, released a study on global trends on the enforcement of mandatory transparent pay reporting.

The study aims at strengthening South Africa’s mechanisms for achieving gender economic equality.

Bosch recommends a mandatory wage gap disclosure as a way to compel employers to remunerate fairly and equally, and for South Africa to view gender equality as an achievable reality and not improbable ideology.

“Very few companies make disclosures in their integrated reports that set out the gender pay gap and the steps they are taking to close the gaps.

“There does not appear to be a strong move towards mandatory gender pay gap disclosure in South Africa, as the focus remains on income inequality disclosure. From a global perspective, there are also mixed views as to whether mandatory gender pay gap disclosure assists in bridging the gap,” said Horak.


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