If nothing is done to accelerate the closure of the gender pay gap, that gap won’t close until 2080 in developed markets and 2166 in developing markets, according to Accenture’s report Getting to Equal 2017 Closing the Gender Pay Gap. That’s a long time for women to wait to achieve equal earning power to their male counterparts. It also implies some serious consequences for women, their families, and society as a whole in terms of standard of living and missed opportunities. Luckily, the study also points to steps women, their employers, and society’s institutions can take to dramatically escalate time-to-closure.

In my previous post, I mentioned three key factors―digital fluency, career strategy, and technology immersion―that can act as equalizers in driving pay parity between men and women. In this post, I’m going to explore how these factors could contribute to closing the gender pay gap much faster than originally projected.

Digital fluency

With its power to reduce the gender pay gap by 21% worldwide by the year 2030, digital fluency is clearly the most critical factor in getting to equal in terms of earning potential. Digital fluency does more than simply create opportunities at work; it can make the difference in a woman having a job at all.

Using digital technology has allowed women to improve their education and employment opportunities by enabling more flexibility both at work and at school as well as helping them more readily network and collaborate with others. Digital fluency plays a key role for women within the financial services sector by providing easier access to funds as customers and entrepreneurs through mobile banking and money transfers, as well as through expanded employment opportunities as the industry becomes increasingly digitally-driven.

However, while women have embraced digital in terms of social media, networking, and work-related tools, they still lag behind men when it comes to taking coding and computing courses, adopting new technologies quickly, or continuously learning new digital skills.

Career strategy

Women who make informed career choices, set their sights high, and proactively manage their careers have a good chance of reaping better pay for themselves. Active involvement in mentoring programs, aspiration to leadership, and choice of profession all make a difference. However, these are areas in which women tend to lag behind men anywhere from 10-13%.

When women, their employers, and governments partner together in this effort, there’s an opportunity to reduce the gender pay gap as a whole. For example, increased company size, full-time work, and family-friendly work practices all contribute to raising women’s wages as well as their employability. Accenture projects a group effort in supporting women’s career development could result in a 9% reduction in the gender pay gap by 2030.

Technology immersion

The willingness to embrace technology is clearly a competitive differentiator when it comes to earning potential. As the world becomes digital-dependent, technology-related fields and skills become increasingly important. Women in developed markets who pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degrees increase their chances of working in a high-paying industry by 19%.

However, not every woman is going to pursue a STEM career, nor should she. But, women should seek out broader experience in science and mathematics―as these fields can open doors in other high-paying industries, such as healthcare, aerospace, civil engineering, and urban design. Even taking a programming or coding course, working in a tech-related field, or simply increasing exposure to technology can help boost a woman’s pay and career.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about how human resources professionals and the financial services firms they work for can help women, individually and as a whole, reach gender pay parity much sooner.

For more information on closing the gender pay gap, please see:

Getting to Equal 2017 Closing the Gender Pay Gap

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