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IWD 2022: It’s time to eliminate the gender pay gap in the ICT industry

Tue, 8th Mar 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

We know it exists, and we know it's a problem, yet men continue to be paid more than women across scores of industries, ICT included. Australia's national gender pay gap is 14.2 per cent, with the full time average weekly earnings difference sitting at $261.50.

One of the ways we can ‘break the bias' – the admirable theme of International Women's Day 2022 – is to do whatever we can to eliminate that gap.

In order to do so, it helps to understand why it exists in the first place.

Nice girls finish last

One of the reasons is that women are not all that great at negotiating. When we sit down to talk turkey, we don't know what to ask for, and we feel diffident about asking for it. It's easier to assume that we'll be looked after and treated fairly, but, very often, that's not the case.

Women frequently enter organisations at lower pay levels than their male peers, and even if they receive incremental pay rises each year, they remain behind the eight ball. You'll see them working just as hard but taking home significantly less than the bloke at the next desk who promoted his abilities more effectively during the interview stage – and put a bigger price tag on them.

Not uncommonly, women don't realise how much they've short-changed themselves until well into their tenure or even after leaving the company.

That was my experience in my twenties when I spent several years selling enterprise software for one of the world's biggest vendors. Top performer all the way through but top earner? Not so much. Lack of knowledge about what male colleagues were pulling in meant I didn't complain about the disparity but learning about it retrospectively made me determined to ensure it wouldn't happen again.
Backing yourself and one other

And I don't want it to happen to other women either.

How can we ensure it doesn't? For starters, we need to do more to prepare young women for those difficult conversations and encourage them to speak up and ask for what they're worth, whether they're applying for a new role, seeking a promotion or having their annual performance review.

Over the years, I've counselled many individuals on this topic, and my advice is always the same: do your research, find out what someone with your skillset and experience can command on the open market, have the facts to hand to back yourself up and strive to ensure the discussion is a non-emotional one.

None of that is easy, but it becomes a darned sight easier if you have the support of a great mentor and a network of contacts and colleagues to advise and support you. These are the folk who can help you develop the confidence you need to ask for more money and reassure you that it's ok to do so. Men are typically better than women at building those collegiate bonds, and I've seen how they stand them in excellent stead as they move up the ranks and take on more senior positions.

Employer accountability

But it shouldn't just be up to individual women to demand parity with their male colleagues – and other women to encourage them to do so. I believe ICT companies should step up, too, to ensure women aren't short-changed. They can do so by providing visibility into salary ranges and, knowing that more often than not, women won't demand what they're worth, taking a proactive approach and paying it to them anyway.

A number of organisations have created programs and made pledges – at Blackline, the fairness with which we approach this issue is a point of pride – but more consistent action across the industry is sorely needed. Rewarding hard workers, rather than those that ask the loudest or look to be at most risk of leaving if their demands aren't met, would go a long way towards smashing the gender pay gap and seeing women remunerated fairly for the contribution they make.

Article by BlackLine APAC regional vice president, Claudia Pirko.

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