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Can We Learn From The Wage Gap?

Can We Learn From the Wage Gap?

Pay transparency has always been a dividing issue between employers and employees, but does it need to be? Some studies have shown that pay transparency actually results in higher performance from employees. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, opened up salary information in the 1980’s. He claimed the move to do so created a sense of trust and shared experience. However, what happens when we compare pay information and certain trends come to light? For instance, we might notice that men are paid markedly more than women. In the UK, they did.
Thanks to the UK Government, their pay statistics based on gender are out for all the world to see. And more will be coming, with the 2010 Equality Act requiring any company with more than 250 employees to share their information by April 2018.
The information we have now is sobering.  Men come out on top in the pay gap in every industry, but the largest is in skilled trades at 24.8%.
And what’s more, they are convinced that unless step to change it are taken, soon, then we can expect these trends to stay.
But how does this reflect Canada, and specifically trades in Canada?
It’s true we don’t have as up-to-date a study on the wage gap as the UK does. But anyone can access a census, and according to the 2011 census, the trends are remarkably similar. For instance, there were 97,660 male electricians employed, who made an average income of $51, 823/year. For female electricians, 2,040 were employed and made an average income of $37,733/ year. In construction, it was 933,375 males and 39,740 females, with respective average incomes of $45,472 and $33,129/year.
Let’s take another industry, healthcare management, for example. 21, 175 women were employed as opposed to the 7,450 men. However, the men’s average income was $88,471, and the women’s $75,602.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK have been trying to figure out what could be responsible for this trend, but they can only account 36.1% of the gap, citing differences in occupations between men and women, and in schedules, particularly more women who work part-time and are paid less due to that.
But what about the other two-thirds of the gap? The ONS admits that it didn’t compile information on academic qualifications, and more perhaps more tellingly, domestic factors such as number and age of children, home responsibilities, and the like. As result, the ONS is careful to say that simple discrimination might not be the reason for the pay gap, although it may play a part.
So would we say that pay transparency causes more harm than good? Or does it only shed light on what problems need fixing?

Kael Campbell is President and Lead Recruiter of Red Seal Recruiting Solutions, a company providing recruitment services in mining, equipment and plant maintenance, utilities, manufacturing, construction, and transportation. When he is not recruiting, Kael spends as much time as possible with family in the great outdoors and on the water. He volunteers his time as a Board Member of the Entrepreneurs Organization of Victoria and a Member of Victoria Marine Search and Rescue. You are invited to subscribe to our employer newsletter or submit your resume.