UN, Take The Lead Focus on Pay Gap, Gender Equity Strategies Globally
Tackling, narrowing and ultimately closing the gender pay gap has been a major focus at the United Nations Commission on The Status of Women 61st annual meeting in New York continuing through this week.
Take The Lead partnered with the UN for a presentation by Take The Lead Leadership Ambassadors Jennifer Manuel and Regina Huber focusing on strategies, policies and programs to address and close the gap. Take The Lead has a mission of gender parity in leadership by 2025.
Take The Lead Ambassador and coach Manuel, who is the founder of Via Consulting Group; and Huber, who is also a Take The Lead Ambassador, coach and founder of Transform Your Performance, discussed the 9 Leadership Power Tools created by Take The Lead president and co-founder Gloria Feldt that focus on a more “inclusive notion of power” for women leaders and offer ways to begin to close the gap.
Narrowing in on solutions, not problems, the power tools teach women how to change systems as well as how to succeed in the world as it is.
“It is estimated that the average U.S. woman in her lifetime will earn $430,000 less from the gender pay gap alone,” Huber says. There are “drivers of this discrepancy at a global level, (so Take The Lead) focuses on how women can change their relationship with power to close the gap, both in their own lives, their organizations & their communities. By embracing chaos, we can change the world to one where leadership parity is a reality,” according to Huber.
In their UN presentation, Huber explained that Iceland serves as an international example of fierce policies to close the gender pay gap.
“One specific measure that relates to gender pay equality was a new approach on taxes and budgets. They call it ‘gendered budget-making:’ It analyzes how taxes/budgets affect men and women differently and how to adjust the system to increase gender equality. Iceland also has generous parental leave and childcare provisions. High female political empowerment, economic participation of women at top levels, high education levels, financial and digital inclusion, legal protection. That’s why Iceland is now way ahead of most countries on pay equity,” according to Huber.
Examine your organization’s commitment to the gender pay gap, Huber and Manuel suggested as a call to action in their presentation. “Throw your support behind efforts to close the gender pay gap, or create your own group,” they said.
In connection with this year’s CSW61, the UN launched#StopTheRobbery, a new UN initiative targeting the 23 percent deficit a woman earns than a man globally with a goal of achieving gender equity in pay.
“Women in male-dominated industries may earn more than those in female-dominated industries, but the gender pay gap persists across all sectors. For example, in the United Kingdom, it’s estimated that female managers in the financial services sector earn up to 39.5 per cent less than their male counterparts,” according to the UN.
“This stubborn inequality in the average wages between men and women persists in all countries and across all sectors, because women’s work is under-valued and women tend to be concentrated in different jobs than men,” according to the UN.
“For women of color, immigrant women and mothers, the gap widens. The so-called “motherhood penalty” pushes women into informal economy, casual and part-time work, and tends to be larger in developing countries than in developed countries,” the UN reports.
Closing the gender pay gap requires a package of measures, central to which is decent work. Once the pay gap closes, gender equity is possible.
“One of the most effective and quickest ways to narrow gender pay gaps is through minimum living wages (or wage floors) and universal social protection. That entails income security to the unemployed or underemployed (the majority of whom again are women), paid maternity leave, child care and other social and health care support, insurance against lost earnings due to sickness or occupational injuries and, of course, adequate pensions in retirement. It’s crucial that such protections are extended to workers in the informal economy, who are often excluded, and overwhelmingly female,” according to the UN.
The International Labour Organization and the UN launched The Equal Pay Platform of Champions at CSW61, and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced that he is a champion, along with other partners.
“It is true, I am a man, but we need all men to stand up for women’s empowerment. Our world needs more women leaders. And our world needs more men standing up for gender equality,” Guterres said. “With the nearly one billion women entering the global economy in the next decade, empowerment will unleash the potential of all these women and girls – and they will lead the world to a new future.”
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said progress is slow in achieving gender equity internationally. “The much-needed positive developments are not happening fast enough, nor are they reaching tipping point in numbers of lives changed,” she said. “Let us agree to constructive impatience.”
To continue the conversation and work on strategies to close the gap, Take The Lead Leadership Ambassadors Manuel and Huber are offering virtual sessions Tuesday, March 21, from 10-11 a.mm. ET, and again that same date from 8-9 p.m. ET.
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com