News that the gender pay gap could close in the next few decades has arrived just in time for International Women’s Day.

Women graduating from universities in 2020 could be the first generation to close the pay gap, according to new global research by professional services company Accenture PLC.

In Canada, the gap could close as early as 2035, shortening the time to pay parity by 24 years, Claudia Thompson, Accenture Canada’s managing director of health and public service and Canadian inclusion and diversity lead, tells ITBusiness.ca – but it won’t happen on its own.

“Digital fluency is the first step in closing the pay gap for women making their career in technology,” Thompson says, noting that it’s incumbent on companies and government to support them “by helping more women secure a good education, access online courses, network through social media and collaborate with classmates.”

“Our research found that in order to close the pay gap, women should have a strong strategy to proactively manage their careers,” Thompson continues. “Finally, women must be immersed in tech and gain additional tech expertise from deeper digital instruction in STEM, coding or computing. Like traditional investment decisions, these advanced digital skills compound over time and become highly valuable later in a woman’s career.”

Currently, for every $100 a woman earns in employment on average globally, a man makes $140. Existing trends predict that this gap won’t close until 2080 in developed countries, and 2168 in developing markets, unless certain practices change.

Accenture believes that closing this gender gap starts with three equalizers: digital fluency, or how well people use digital technologies to connect, learn and work; being more proactive in managing their careers; and acquiring more digital skills at a faster rate – all of which come from securing better education and networking with other women through tools such as social media.

The company’s report, titled Getting to Equal 2017, found that university-bound women in developed countries will be the most likely to see the disparity between pay close within their professional lifetimes.

gender pay gap canada

“In order to close the pay gap, women should have a strong strategy to proactively manage their careers, but they cannot do it alone,” the report says. “They need guidance, mentoring and support from governments and employers.”

And of course, getting women more involved in the science, tech, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields is key to advancement and closing the pay gap.

“Women must be immersed in tech and gain additional tech expertise from deeper digital instruction in STEM, coding or computing. Like traditional investment decisions, these advanced digital skills compound over time and become highly valuable later in a woman’s career,” Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture North America, says in the report.

“The future workforce must be an equal workforce,” she continues. “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.”

Thompson adds that Accenture is doing its part by holding events across Canada this month for its employees, clients and stakeholders which feature speakers such as “Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan, Olympic Rower Silken Laumann and CTV broadcaster Marci Ien.” These events will also have Twitter parties, giveaways and prizes for those who tweet using #GettingToEqualTo and who register atAccentureIWD.ca.

“Globally, we celebrate our 130,000 women every day here at Accenture! We will also host live global broadcasts on March 10th as we explore new ways for women to innovate and lead,” Thompson says.

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