We Don’t Want Equal Pay, We Want Fair Pay (Guest Post)

Lauren is a litigation solicitor based in Sydney. She is passionate about advocating for women and worker’s rights. She runs a blog at http://lawyerlauren.com.

When she’s not arguing, writing or trying to stay awake in meetings, she cooks, surfs and tries to manage her comedy club and yoga addiction.

We want fair pay

A protest event.

Pay gaps, sexism and gender inequality make up some of the hottest topics on the corporate playground at the moment. It’s generally agreed that the cards are stacked against women when it comes to pay. It’s generally agreed that society and organisational culture continues to slam the door in the face of the career progression for many women. However, we’re often so hung up contrasting salaries and bonuses with Mr Desk-Next-Door, that we rarely take the time to assess what equal pay even is, and whether that’s actually what we want.

I often hear women reeling about how their male colleagues being paid substantially more than they are. However, when I push for numbers, very few women can actually give me any figures. I’ll ask, what do you think you should be paid? And they’ll look bashful, and mutter something about being paid the same as their male colleagues. Reading between the lines, most women don’t have a clue what they should be paid, because they’ve never taken the time to evaluate what their skill set is actually worth. If you haven’t researched the market, or thought about what numerical value your skills bring to your industry, then chances are you’ll have no choice but to accept any old average number your employer slaps on the table. Simply because you are without any rebuttable to negotiate otherwise.

Equal pay implies that women should be paid the same as men. Full stop. The end. It sounds great, but this egalitarian concept is too generic and unrefined to be realistically applied in practice. To say that all men and women should receive the same sized slice of pie, regardless of their experience, skills, ambition, ability and achievements within their industry is misguided. A one-size-fits-all approach is not what we really want.

Yes, we can say we’re disadvantaged by organisational culture. Yes, we can say we’re hindered by sexism. Yes, can say our society needs to move towards great empowerment of women. But we as individuals can take matters into our own hands. I believe part of the solution to closing the ‘gender pay gap’ is to:

  1. Stop focusing on what men are earning; and
  2. Start focusing on being paid what you’re worth.

We all know the statistics of men earning more. It’s raw and it’s real, but you don’t have to become a statistic. Nobody will ever pay you what you’re worth, they will only ever pay you what they think you’re worth. Therefore, it’s within your control to influence their thinking to ensure it matches your ideals.

I don’t believe in equality when it comes to pay. Simply because equal does not mean fair. Regardless of gender, if you’re a driven and enthusiastic performer at work, you want to be recognised for your achievements and results. Why should you be paid the same as the lazy sod who rocks at 9.10 am every morning and is more concerned about a Facebook feed than owning the day? Fair is the concept that really matters. Get rid of gender. An individual assessment of merit is what we should be pushing for.

Compacting your skills and experience into an annual numerical figure is not an easy task. In fact, it can pose more questions than answers. Women are naturally far more modest than men, but sadly, humility doesn’t pay dollars in performance reviews or job interviews. So it’s easier to beat our drum to the tune of being paid the same as men. Market rates are just a guide. You may be worth more, but if you’re not sure, how can you expect your employer to be? Continue reading

Iceland is a Leading Feminist Country and Here’s Why

Stunning Icelandic Sky

Beautiful sky in the feminist country of Iceland. Photo via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain.

Iceland. A country, an island, and a feminist nation. I’ve never been there, but I would like to go one day to see the sun at midnight in summer and experience the society that empowers women. Iceland’s feminist-based ideology is one that I can wholeheartedly get behind.

Iceland and the Working Woman

The Economist recently chose Iceland as the best place for working women. The Nordic country got a better score on the index for women and work than Canada (11th place) and the United States (19th place). The UK was in 24th spot.

Let’s dig deeper into The Economist‘s findings. In Iceland, women have close to half (44 percent) of seats on listed-company boards. This is thanks to voluntary political-party quotas.

And, get this: Women achieved 48 percent of seats in Iceland’s parliament in 2016. This was (and is) a huge accomplishment as, according to the Huffington Post, Iceland was the first country to have that many women in a single legislative body. Wow. Compare that to the 19 percent of women in Congress in the U.S.

Furthermore, the Guide to Iceland explains that women compose 66 percent of total university graduates and that 80 percent of women in Iceland work. These numbers show that the small island is progressive, and makes noteworthy strides in gender equality largely because women have taken matters into their own hands.

A Feminist Looks Ahead in Iceland

A vision for gender equality in Iceland. Making strides as a feminist island nation. Photo via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain.

Iceland’s Advancements in Gender Equality

By now you may be asking yourself, why is Iceland closer to achieving gender equality than Canada, the U.S., and so many other countries? Looking back at the island nation’s history helps provide insights.

For centuries, Icelandic women were at home while their husbands went to sea. The women were responsible for getting the food, creating the home and making sure everything didn’t hit the fan. They made sure money was spent reasonably and helped the country grow.

Continue reading

For International Women’s Day 2017: 5 Women Reaching for Gender Equality

Fighting Gender Equality is Hard Work, Like Exercise

Let’s Aim for Women and Men to be Equals.

The day is almost here! March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD) 2017. I hope this special day will be full of actions that help move the world toward being gender equal. On IWD, which dates back to 1908, let’s celebrate the accomplishments of women around the globe. Here are five of the many women championing for equal rights for women:

Manal al-Sharif

As a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif inspired a campaign for women’s right to drive. She went against the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia and was imprisoned for nine days after filming herself driving a vehicle and then posting it to YouTube.

Her 2011 Women2Drive campaign put pressure on the government to change the law, particularly when social media picked up the story of this woman who questioned why women did not have the same rights as men. She continues to speak out about female oppression in her country.

Alma Gomez

In the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, Alma Gomez campaigns against feminicide. She co-wrote a chapter of the Terrorizing Women: Feminicide in the Americas book, as well as penning several articles on the killing of women who were involved in human rights causes.

Continue reading