Publication of pay data by all sectors needed to ensure equal pay, says Bacik

Women will be ‘effectively working for free’ between now and 2018

At a Dress for Success Dublin event to mark Equal Pay Day are, from left, Sonya Lennon, designer, tech entrepreneur and founder of Dress for Success Dublin; Senator Ivana Bacik; and youth mental health activist Jamie Harrington. Photograph: Mark Stedman

At a Dress for Success Dublin event to mark Equal Pay Day are, from left, Sonya Lennon, designer, tech entrepreneur and founder of Dress for Success Dublin; Senator Ivana Bacik; and youth mental health activist Jamie Harrington. Photograph: Mark Stedman

 

Employers in all sectors, private and public, must be required under law to publish pay data if the State is serious about overcoming the pay gap between women and men, Senator Ivana Bacik has said.

Speaking at a discussion on equal pay on Friday, Ms Bacik underlined the urgent need to build transparency around how much organisations pay their staff in order to close salary gaps between male and female employees.

“It’s over 40 years since we introduced equal pay legislation across Europe and Ireland in 1974 and it still hasn’t addressed that gap,” said Ms Bacik. “Instead of requiring women to sue their employers when they’re getting paid less, which was the flawed model of the equal pay legislation because it puts the onus on the woman, the new model we’re putting in our Bill is that the State requires employers to publish anonymised pay data.”

“We need to change the way in way in which we’re tackling the gender pay gap and that sort of wage survey and transparency is a better model.”

Ms Bacik recently launched a Gender Pay Gap Information Bill in the Seanad which she says is “part of the new momentum” seeking to end discrimination between men and women in the workplace.

Women in Ireland earn 14 per cent less than men with the gender pay gap growing in recent years, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Sonya Lennon, designer and founder of the Dress for Success Dublin charity, says a 14 per cent loss in salary is equivalent to a woman working for free for about seven weeks of the year. The charity has marked November 10th as Ireland’s Equal Pay Day in recognition of the seven weeks between Friday and the end of the year when “women will effectively be working for free”.

“We look around us and say how is it possible that women didn’t have the opportunity to vote? I hope that in a few short years we’ll be saying ‘how is it possible that women could be paid less for the same work as men?’ Are we willing for our daughters to be paid less than our sons?”

Ms Lennon echoed Ms Bacik’s call for the publication of pay scales, saying it would mean no place for companies to hide. She also called for the Government to introduce mandatory shared parental leave to prevent women from taking on the bulk of the childcare responsibilities and thus losing out on their professional development.

Asked to comment on language in the workplace following Minister of State John Halligan’s question to a female official if she was married during a job interview, Ms Bacik said language would only change when there was a “critical mass” of women in positions of power.

“Certainly the language in politics can be appalling misogynistic but that will change and has changed as you see more women coming through. I also think we’re facing into a period where we’re going to see misogynistic language in the public sphere around repealing the 8th amendment. Some people in the Oireachtas are still deeply hostile to the idea of women’s reproductive rights.”

Also speaking at Friday’s event was youth mental health activist Jamie Harrington who called for greater education on equality in both primary and secondary schools. “We teach young people maths in school but we don’t teach about equality. We need to teach young men that it’s ok to talk to women and not ok to objectify women.”