The FINANCIAL — Women graduating from university in developed markets in 2020 could be the first generation to close the gender pay gap in their professional lifetimes, according to new research from Accenture.
The report, “Getting to Equal 2017,” reveals that, within decades, the pay gap could close if women take advantage of three career equalizers and if business, government and academia provide critical support.
With these changes, the pay gap in developed markets could close by 2044, shortening the time to pay parity by 36 years. In developing markets, the changes could cut more than 100 years off the time to reach pay parity, achieving it by 2066 instead of 2168.
“The future workforce must be an equal workforce. The gender pay gap is an economic and competitive imperative that matters to everyone, and we must all take action to create significant opportunities for women and close the gap more quickly,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s chief executive officer – North America.
Accenture’s research found that, globally, a woman earns an average $100 for every $140 a man earns. Adding to this imbalance is the fact that women are much less likely than men to have paid work (50 percent and 76 percent, respectively). This contributes to a hidden pay gap that increases the economic inequities between men and women: for every $100 a woman earns, a man earns $258, the research shows.
The research also identifies several critical factors that affect a woman’s ability to achieve equal pay as early as university. Female undergraduates are currently less likely than their male counterparts to choose an area of study that they believe offers high earning potential (27 percent vs. 40 percent), have a mentor (45 percent vs. 58 percent) or aspire to senior leadership positions (41 percent vs. 51 percent). Additionally, young women are less likely than their male counterparts to adopt new technologies quickly (45 percent vs. 63 percent) and take coding and computing courses (68 percent vs. 83 percent).
The report, which builds on Accenture’s 2016 research on closing the gender gap in the work place, offers three powerful accelerators to help women close the pay gap:
Digital fluency – the extent to which people use digital technologies to connect, learn and work
Career strategy – the need for women to aim high, make informed choices, and manage their careers proactively
Tech immersion – the opportunity to acquire greater technology and stronger digital skills to advance as quickly as men
Applying these career accelerators, combined with support from business, government and academia, could reduce the pay gap by 35 percent by 2030, boosting women’s income $3.9 trillion.
“Gender equality is an essential element of an inclusive workplace, and this extends to pay,” said Pierre Nanterme, Accenture’s chairman and CEO. “Business, government and academia all have an important role to play in closing the gap. Collaboration among these organizations is key to providing the right opportunities, environments and role models to lead the way for change.”