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Three critical accelerators to close gender pay gap: study

Women graduating from university in developing markets in 2020 could be the first generation to close the gender pay gap in their lifetimes, according to a recent research from global management consulting firm Accenture.

The report, Getting to Equal 2017, reveals that, within decades, the pay gap could close if women take advantage of three career equalizers and if business, government and academia provide critical support.

With these changes, the pay gap in developed markets could close by 2044, shortening the time to pay parity by 36 years. In developing markets, the changes could cut more than 100 years off the time to reach pay parity, achieving it by 2066 instead of 2168.

“The future workforce must be an equal workforce. The gender pay gap is an economic and competitive imperative that matters to everyone, and we must all take action to create significant opportunities for women and close the gap more quickly,” said Omar Boulos, regional managing director of Accenture in the Middle East and North Africa.

Accenture’s research found that, globally, a woman earns an average $100 for every $140 a man earns. Adding to this imbalance is the fact that women are much less likely than men to have paid work (50 percent and 76 percent, respectively). This contributes to a “hidden pay gap” that increases the economic inequities between men and women: for every $100 a woman earns, a man earns $258, the research shows.

The research, based on surveys of more than 28,000 women and men, including undergraduates, in 29 countries, also identifies several critical factors that affect a woman’s ability to achieve equal pay as early as university. Female undergraduates in the UAE are currently less likely than their male counterparts to choose an area of study that they believe offers high earning potential (37 per cent vs. 42 per cent), have a mentor (69 per cent vs.70 per cent) however women show greater interest then men in aspiring to senior leadership positions (67 per cent vs. 62 per cent). Additionally, young women lag in adopting new technologies quickly (58 per cent vs. 71 per cent) and in taking coding and computing courses (83 per cent vs. 93 per cent).

The report, which builds on Accenture’s 2016 research on closing the gender gap in the work place, offers three powerful accelerators to help women close the pay gap:

  • Digital fluency – the extent to which people use digital technologies to connect, learn and work
  • Career strategy – the need for women to aim high, make informed choices, and manage their careers proactively
  • Tech immersion – the opportunity to acquire greater technology and stronger digital skills to advance as quickly as men

Accenture claims that by applying these career accelerators, combined with support from business, government and academia, could reduce the pay gap by 35 per cent by 2030, boosting women’s income $3.9 trillion.

“Gender equality is an essential element of an inclusive workplace, and this extends to pay,” said Pierre Nanterme, Accenture’s chairman and CEO.

“Business, government and academia all have an important role to play in closing the gap. Collaboration among these organizations is key to providing the right opportunities, environments and role models to lead the way for change,” added Nanterme.