Iceland has become a model for more than just a spectacular education system. On January 1, 2018, it became illegal for men to receive more pay than women in roles for which women were equally qualified. Yes, you read correctly. It became illegal. This makes Iceland the first country in the world to make this bold move, a move for which women across the world continue to wait.
Women’s rights have come a far way since the 1960s. We’ve worked hard to educate ourselves and be a champion for change in our communities so that we can be seen as more than just mere homemakers. Former United States President Barack Obama understood this and championed the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) in 2012. He found that “on average, full-time working women earned 77 cents to every dollar earned by men for equivalent work, and the gap is significantly more for women of color, with African-American women earning 64 cents and Latina women earning 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man.”
To date, this act hasn’t cleared the House of Representatives. However, more states have begun to strengthen their equal pay laws to include elements of the PFA. Doing this makes it more difficult for wide pay gaps to be defended. Nevertheless, more needs to be done nationally so that the United States can follow Iceland’s lead.
There are even more significant issues on a global scale that impact a woman’s opportunity even to enter the workforce. A report published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights states that approximately 15 million girls, many of who live in poverty, “will never set foot into a classroom compared to 10 million boys.” Education is necessary for gainful employment. Without it, these girls already face a losing battle when they become women.
So, what can we do in our own companies and communities to ensure all women receive equal treatment?
Don’t Wait on Equal Pay Legislation
You don’t have to wait for an equal pay bill to become enforceable law before you make changes to payroll. If you aren’t the owner of the company, you can suggest the need for equal pay with supporting evidence. Have other female employees at your workplace sign a petition so that there’s proof that you’re a unified voice. Don’t just sit back and take what the duck dishes out.
Provide Fair Opportunities for Promotion
Promotions should be granted to candidates who have demonstrated their merit. Ethnicity and gender should never cloud a decision maker’s judgment. You may not be the decision maker, but you have a voice. Speak up if you’re the victim of being turned down for a promotion despite being qualified. It’s your right to know why you did not receive a promotion and you can take your employer to court if the reason is unjustified.
Be A Part of the Girl Up Campaign
The United Nations formed the Girl Up campaign in 2015 in collaboration with the First Lady Michelle Obama. Girls can be a part of leadership training and other UN programs. You can support the work they’re doing with girls across the world by donating. They have six tiers of donation that can provide tremendous opportunities for girls who don’t have access to education.
You can become more involved by actual creation of a Girl Up club or program in your school or community. Learn more about how to do this here. They’ve also provided opportunities for you to become an advocate for girls’ rights. Be a part of the change.
Gender equity in the workplace is a never-ending issue. More countries need to follow Iceland’s bold move and create country-wide legislation that protects women from gender inequity in the workplace. Until then, let your voice be heard! Don’t suffer in silence.
If you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed; trying to figure out how to overcome gender inequality, schedule a free Discovery session with Coach Margaret.