Should Women Ask for More Salary in their Professions?

Women in India at workplaces do not discuss their salaries with their male counterparts

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By Komal Nathani


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Gender pay parity has been a much-debated topic worldwide for decades but is yet to see the light of day. From BBC China Editor Carrie Gracie to International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, women have time and again showed their outrage by speaking about the pay equity issues in public; however, it still remains a vexed issue in the US and many other developing countries.

Even though India has come a long way from its patriarchal system, gender equality in every aspect and field still seems a distant dream. The issue of biases against women when it comes to paychecks is also one of the grey areas that are usually not preferred to be addressed in India.

Women in India earn 25 per cent less than men do revealed the Monster Salary Index 2016. The gap had been constant from the past three years. Even the 2018 Economic Survey had stated that women workers make up for a significant section among the low-skilled informal worker category and are engaged in low-productivity and low-paying work. The survey also highlighted that the women in labour force are the most disadvantaged and the gender gap amounts to 50 per cent in labour workforce.

India's recent ranking at 108th position on World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2017 is also a wakeup call for the country to address this grave issue.

To know the reasons behind women earning lower than their male counterparts, Entrepreneur India talked to a few consultants about pay equity challenges and had a brief about what can be done to bring equality.

Is Gender Bias a Myth When it Comes to Pay Equity?

Citing the reasons of women having low remuneration over men, the founder and CEO of Interweave Consulting Pvt Ltd, a consulting organization specialising in Diversity & Inclusion, Nirmala Menon said, "As per our research, women in India at workplaces do not discuss their salaries with their male counterparts. That's why they don't realize they are getting paid less as compared to male employees for the same job."

"One of the major reasons are usually women do not negotiate their salaries. It might be an indicative towards their lack of self-confidence. Also, we have seen women in more of supporting roles than managerial roles when it comes to top companies," she added.

However, defining the long history of the relationship of women with their workplaces, Dr. SrinuBabu Gedela , CEO, PULSUS, OMICS International said, "Women workforce in India is in a state of transformation. For many decades, women participation was limited to the agricultural work force or semi-skilled industrial workforce where women have been perceived to be less productive and therefore less paid. They were also restricted to a limited number of job roles. And this obviously led to a pay disparity based on gender which is a structural issue."

The Hyderabad-based OMICS International is the largest scientific journal cooperation that employs 3000+ employees across the world and majority is women.

Begin a Conversation About it - A long overdue dialogue

Talking to the other consultants, we also got to know how Indian women are unaware of The Equal Remuneration Act that got enacted in 1973. The law states about the equal pay rights for equal work irrespective of gender.

The pay equity has been a hot topic of discussion on varied forums not just in India but across the world. But clearly just talking about it is not a resolution. There should be a consolidated effort to encourage women workforce from the end of government and corporates both.

"The corporates should be cognizant of the biases and should make efforts to address the issue," said Dr. Gedela.

"One more structural issue is the opportunity for women to grow higher up in hierarchies; because of many men may be uncomfortable working with lady bosses as that is not very common. Unless the career growth is unhindered, women would continue to have lesser opportunities to match up with their male counterparts," he added.

How is India Heading for Pay Equity?

For the first time in Indian cinema, an actress was paid more than the male lead. In the Bollywood period film of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Deepika Padukone got a whopping INR 13 crore for her role in the movie. Padukone is one of the highest paid actresses in India, and also owns the position of being the only Indian in the list of top paid actresses in the world.

Also, recently software giant Adobe India announced its achievement in attaining gender pay equality. The IT Company has also discontinued the practice of using a candidate's prior remuneration to determine the starting salary offered, an important step to help counter the gender wage gap.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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