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MAXIS Research on Gender and Pay Parity

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Does pay parity equal gender equality?

New research commissioned by MAXIS Global Benefits Network (MAXIS GBN) and published in October 2019 reveals that two-thirds of global workers think men and women are in a position of gender equality if they are paid the same.

The research involved employees in ten different countries including the UK, US, Germany, Japan and Australia. The United Nations, however, states that the issue goes much further than just remuneration.

The United Nations says equality goes further than money, emphasizing the need for women to have equal opportunities for leadership, and the need for non-discrimination and sexual harassment policies in the workplace.

Australia (75%) has the greatest proportion of workers who believe equal pay equals gender equality while Japan has the lowest proportion at just 46%, in the UK it is 70%.

The research also found that over two-thirds (67%) of office-based employees across the globe think firms should introduce an annual gender equality audit.  A gender equality audit is a tool that assesses and checks the institutionalization of gender equality in organizations’ policies, provision of services, and budgets.

It also enables firms to identify aspects of their organizational culture which may discriminate against one gender. Currently, only just over a quarter (27%) of the employees surveyed across the globe said their firm currently had in place an annual gender equality audit, with 40% of UK based employees say their firm has one in place compared to just 13% in Japan.

Employees also state the greatest barrier to workplace gender equality in their organization is unconscious bias, which happens automatically and is triggered by the brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations. These judgments are influenced by the background, cultural environment and personal experiences of the person making the judgment.

The second biggest barrier is too few senior female role models (20%).  Other barriers identified include a lack of a formalized plan or strategy to ensure gender equality (14%), while one in ten (11%) pointed to active discrimination against women.

The barriers are fairly consistent across different countries: In Australia (28%), Canada (25%), Germany (25%), Japan (25%) and the Netherlands (26%) unconscious bias is the greatest barrier while in Italy (22%) and Mexico (25%) it is the problem of too few senior female role models.  In Brazil workers believe the problem starts in the education system (21%).  In the UK and USA (both 27%) the greatest proportion of workers believe there aren’t any barriers to workplace equality.

The research also found some interesting contradictions. While 20% of men surveyed believe there is unconscious bias in the workplace, one in 25 male workers still also believes that a woman is being aggressive in the workplace if she asks for a pay rise or a promotion.

One-quarter of male workers believe if a woman threatens to leave her job in order to try and push through a pay rise, she is acting aggressively. In Italy and Brazil almost one in ten (9%) of male workers think a woman is being aggressive in the workplace if she asks for a pay rise, while 11% of male Japanese workers believe a woman is aggressive if she asks for a promotion.

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