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Walk the walk

Dene Moore: BC remains far behind the pack on addressing the persistent pay gap between men and women.

Happy belated International Women’s Day, the global celebration of parading for public brownie points all the diverse women you pay less for work of equal value.

I had no idea how dedicated every organization in this province, this country and the world are to pay equity and gender equality until I saw the outpouring of International Women’s Day celebrations on social media.

It does leave me a bit baffled, though, as to why full-time working women in this country earn on average 76.8 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The gap is wider for women who are Indigenous, racialized, living with a disability, or immigrants and in traditionally male sectors such as trades, trucking and finance.

I am confused about why, despite this overwhelming support, women comprise more than half of the Canadian population but just 19.5 per cent of board member positions on Canada’s top 500 companies and just 8.5 per cent of the highest-paid positions in the country’s top 100 listed companies.

In the Conference Board of Canada’s recent report card on the gender pay gap, B.C. ranked 10th out of 13 provinces and territories, with a 22.6 per cent wage gap, ahead of only Northwest Territories (23 per cent), Alberta (24.6), and Newfoundland and Labrador (28.9). The province got a “D” grade.

B.C. remains one of the only provinces without pay equity legislation. Manitoba enacted its legislation in 1986. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Quebec have all since followed suit.

The B.C. government celebrated International Women’s Day by announcing “B.C. moves toward pay transparency measures.”

Toward. In 2022.


Rather than announce pay equity legislation – 36 years after Manitoba did so – the province announced it will “begin” consultations on pay transparency legislation.

Wow. The pace of reform is truly astonishing.

Pay transparency is an important step towards pay equity but requiring all employers to report salary data that proves there is a gap in itself does nothing to address the gap.

A 2019 study by Statistics Canada of the impact of pay transparency in the public sector found it may reduce the gap but did not eliminate it.

By now we realize that the pandemic had an outsized impact on women.

According to Battered Women’s Support Services in B.C., women account for 72 per cent of part-time employees and about two-thirds of the minimum-wage workforce in this country.

Thirty-six per cent of mother-led families live below the poverty line and 43 per cent of children in low-income families live with a single, female parent.

And the median income for single mothers is more than a third lower than for single fathers.

As corporations across this country and around the world clapped themselves on the back this International Women’s Day, one busy little Twitter bot clapped back.

Under a banner that read, “Deeds not words. Stop posting platitudes. Start fixing the problem,” the U.K.-based Gender Pay Gap Bot called out the hypocrites by posting pay gap percentages.

Boastful social media posts from every nook and cranny of society, from academia to multibillion-dollar companies, were quickly deleted as the bot fought back.

Now that is how you celebrate International Women’s Day.