Financial Literacy

It’s Equal Pay Day. Read these stories on what we can do to close the pay gap

By: Lisa Coxon on April 9, 2019

For its February 2018 issue, Maclean’s magazine did something unusual: it created two different magazine covers, and then asked men to pay 26% more than women for it.

It was a clever way to bring attention to the gender pay gap, which, in 2017, Statistics Canada said amounted to women earning $0.87 for every dollar earned by men. That is, of course, just one estimate. That number changes all the time, depending on what segment of the population we’re measuring. (Macleans, for instance, came to the 26% gap by using StatsCan data that captured men and women who work full-time.)

Regardless, there is a gap, and that gap usually only gets the attention it deserves on Equal Pay Day, which incidentally happens to be today. It’s a time of reflection. A time to ask ourselves: what solutions have been put forth to close the gap? What can employers do? What can employees do? What can the government do?

There is an abundance of answers to those questions, but the important thing is: we need to keep asking them. A good place to start with any problem is reading more about it. That’s why, for Equal Pay Day, we’ve rounded up some of the best things written about the gender pay gap and how to close it:

Why the gender pay gap is everyone’s problem, via Maclean’s

Senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Kate McInturff makes a strong case for why the gender wage gap doesn’t just negatively affect women, and why transparency is among the only solution in this piece penned last year.

“There’s this curious thing that happens when it comes to discrimination: we look to the victims of that discrimination to fix it,” McInturff writes. “This strikes me as being about as useful as asking people to stop walking around with wallets so that we can prevent pickpocketing.”

It’s not just about women being more assertive in salary negotiations. Instead, McInturff argues, the onus should be on employers to track and report wage discrepancies based on gender.

The benefits of closing the gap aren’t just for women, either. How much better off, McInturff asks, would households crushed by debt be if the woman was earning a bigger paycheck?. And how much more could women working full-time have contributed to the economy if they were earning the same wage as their male counterparts?

“Employers, gentlemen, here’s what works: tracking and transparency. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know you have it.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith wants to be paid like a man and isn't afraid to say it, via WealthSimple

In this as-told-to essay for WealthSimple’s Money Diaries series, point guard for the Dallas Wings, Skylar Diggins-Smith, gets real about the pay disparities between NBA and WNBA players.

“Players in the NBA get about 50% of the revenue,” she says. “For women, the percentage is in the twenties. . . which is kind of unbelievable.”

Diggins-Smith, who says she’s the highest-paid player on the Dallas Wings, points out that discrepancies don’t just exist in the areas of revenue or wages; they exist in travel (WNBA players are expected to fly commercial); in how much air time the teams are given on television; and in corporate deals and merchandise, too (WNBA players don’t get any revenue from jersey sales).

“I’m at a loss for words sometimes, talking about this,” she says. “What do I tell my daughter if it's her dream to play in the WNBA?”

Five ways to win an argument about the gender wage gap, via Institute for Women’s Policy Research

We might be roughly 200 years away from closing the global wage gap but that doesn’t mean we can’t work to dispel some misconceptions about it in the meantime.

Who hasn’t been in a heated conversation with someone about a hot topic like the wage gap? This article from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research — a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. — takes a unique approach and provides some hot tips for how to win an argument with a wage gap skeptic.

Strategies like reminding your debate partner that the wage gap ratio is actually a pretty conservative estimate, and is much higher for women of colour; or that what might be presumed as women’s “choices” (e.g. taking a lower-paying job) isn’t always a choice; and that there’s no evidence mothers are less productive employees.

Ontario shouldn’t delay on closing the wage gap, via Toronto Star

The Toronto Star’s Editorial Board took to print to voice its concern over the provincial government’s decision to delay the introduction of the Pay Transparency Act, which it insists will help close the wage gap.

The Star takes on Labour Minister Laurie Scott’s many reasons for the delay (the need to do consultations and the headache wage reporting will create for businesses, to name a couple), saying “none of them holds water.”

It criticizes the questions that the PCs plan to ask during their consultations, which it says “are designed to elicit what the Ford government wants to hear.” Questions like: “How does earning 30 per cent less than a man impact your ability to pay bills, educate your children, pay for housing and retire?”

“What is patently clear — apparently to everyone outside of the Ford government — is that nothing short of full transparency will close the gap,” the Board writes. “In 2019, it’s time to give the go-ahead to the Pay Transparency Act and prove Ontario is open for business, but not for discrimination.”