Breaking the Bias: Closing the Gender Pay Gap

What is the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings of a man and woman in a workforce. It does not show differences in pay for comparable jobs. This is called unequal pay and is a separate issue, which is combatted in most countries through ‘equal pay for equal work’ laws. Instead, the gender pay gap measures the percentage difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women. This means that an organisation may have a large gender pay gap if most high paid jobs are filled by men, despite male and female employees being paid the same amount for similar roles.

There is no single dominating reason behind the gender pay gap. Instead, it results from a web of complex social and economic reasons that, in combination, reduce a woman’s earning capacity over her lifetime. Some of the contributing factors include, but are not limited to, conscious and unconscious discrimination or bias during hiring and pay decisions, male-dominated industries and jobs attracting higher wages, a lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring responsibilities and women’s disproportionate share of unpaid domestic work.

On a global scale, the gender pay gap is 32% and estimated to take over 135 years to close at the current rate of improvement. This means that, on average, men earn just under a third more than women worldwide. Before COVID-19, closing the global gender pay gap was estimated to take 99.5 years, but unfortunately, evidence now suggests that the pandemic and its related economic downturn has affected women more severely than men, partially re-opening gaps that had already been closed. Currently, the gender pay gap in Western Europe is 22%, potentially to be closed in just over 51 years, and in North America it’s 23%, to be closed in around 62 years. The Middle East and North African region remain the area with the largest gender pay gap of 39%.

The gender pay gap also varies between industries, with the gap in STEM-based careers particularly apparent. In the UK, a female scientist or engineer now earns 22% less than males on average, and this gender pay gap exists from the outset. Research has shown that men are paid more than women from their first year of employment and over time this gap continues to grow, resulting in men having an average salary that is £10,000 more than women after 20 years in the industry.

How does Ocean Infinity plan to eliminate the gender pay gap?

The maritime industry has one of the largest gender pay gaps, with women earning on average 43% less than men in the UK. That’s equivalent to an average male salary of £67,000, and £38,500 for females. One of the main driving factors for this huge gap is that fact that 95% of all admin roles in maritime are occupied by women, compared to just 5% of executive leadership team roles.

At Ocean Infinity, our goal is to close the gender pay gap and break the bias in an industry that is dominated by men. To do this, we have set ourselves tangible targets and created a roadmap of actions to ensure we succeed in our mission. Of course, there is no ‘quick fix’ solution to closing any gender pay gap. Instead, it’s a long-term process of improving workplaces to be equally appealing to both men and women, and implementing gender equality policies and practices.

Recruiting and promoting women into leadership roles is particularly important, as it allows them to influence corporate culture and decision-making, including directly influencing pay grades and wider equity. We realise this value, which is why we are committed to having over 40% of women in leadership roles by 2025. We have improved our recruitment process and ensured that it is completely inclusive at every stage, and we are also providing mentoring and development opportunities for women in the company to overcome gender-based issues. Our upcoming launch of the Women+ Collective is a great example of this. Essentially, we believe in equality of opportunity and we pride ourselves on employing the best people to lead us to success, regardless of gender.

Closing the gender pay gap is hugely important, not only because achieving gender equality is a fundamental human right, but because it is also linked to overall economic performance, whether that be of an individual business or an entire country. It is becoming increasingly accepted that a diverse and inclusive workforce, regardless of size or industry, generates tangible benefits, such as increased efficiency, productivity, innovation, creativity and improved employee engagement. Moreover, increased gender diversity on boards and senior executive positions is associated with better financial performance. In fact, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams are over 20% more likely to experience above-average profitability.

We recognise that not all the change can come from within our company, and that improvement needs to be made at a more systemic level. This includes initiatives that encourage women to pursue certain careers and provide mentorship, ultimately to bring greater representation to higher-paying roles in the future. We passionately believe that we have a responsibility to educate the next generation of thinkers, and in particular, empower young girls to pursue STEM-based careers. This is why we have committed to support organisations around that world that are encouraging girls to pursue STEM subjects from an early age.

Only by working together will today’s 32%, become tomorrow’s 0%.

-Immy Mobley, ESG, Ocean Infinity

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