Female execs in SA still underrepresented, underpaid - report


Female representation at senior management and executive levels in South Africa is still, on average, only 20%.

This is according to the REMchannel report by PwC, released in July. 

The data also showed that 61% of the women are remunerated below the median of the sample, compared to just 39% of men. 

By contrast, 63% of men are remunerated above the median, compared to just 37% of the women in the sample. 

The survey looked at remuneration data for more than 550 participating organisations and just over 4 000 senior managers and executives.

Fresh focus

Globally, there is renewed focus on the pay disparities between men and women, the report says.

According to the report, the gender pay gap essentially refers to the difference between the average wages of men and women, regardless of seniority.

'Equal pay', on the other hand, is regarded as a related, but different concept. 'Equal pay' refers to pay given for the same kind of work. 

The report argues that corporate South Africa still needs to focus on ensuring that the number of women at senior management and executive level is increased, in addition to addressing gender pay inequalities. 

It also points out that globally, institutional investors and company boards are placing increased focus on gender gaps.  

In many countries, organisations are required to report on the gender pay gap. Although this is not yet the case in South Africa, numerous organisations have taken steps to identify pay disparities at all levels.

Many companies have also adopted a long-term view to ensure that diversity – and particularly gender pay inequality - is addressed and reported on, the report says.

"Overall, we are seeing more transparency in reward programmes, as well as increased scrutiny of performance and bonus outcomes by gender. There is also a renewed focus on the comparison ratio between female pay and the mid-point of the pay band against male employees," states PwC about the report.

Mandatory quotas

In addition, some countries have adopted mandatory quotas to increase the participation of women on boards. In 2008, Norway, for instance, obliged listed companies to reserve at least 40% of their director seats for women or face dissolution.

In the following five years, more than a dozen countries set similar quotas at 30% to 40%.

In Belgium, France and Italy, firms that fail to comply can be fined, dissolved or banned from paying existing directors. Germany, Spain and the Netherlands prefer not to have such measures.

"Ultimately, sustainable change can only stem from underlying changes within organisations. We're already seeing how the catalyst of gender pay reporting is helping to concentrate minds on how to build diversity and inclusion into a more compelling employee value proposition, in areas ranging from talent development and succession planning to flexible working and work life balance," said PwC.

"This goes beyond gender and can potentially affect the approach to all aspects of diversity in South African organisations."

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