Is Ireland closing the gender pay gap?

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In a historic move, Ireland is edging closer to closing the gender pay gap

ImageSenator Pauline O’Reilly speaks to the Dáil Chamber, July 2021

“Women earn 14.4% less than men in this country“,  says Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly, something new legislation hopes to combat. The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 requires businesses to report pay differences between male and female staff. While this move towards transparency will not close the wage gap in and of itself, it is a significant step. 

The Bill will mean businesses with over 50 employees have to publish their pay rates each year, including bonuses. It was initially proposed in 2019 and debated in the Dáil in May of this year.  This week, the Bill passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas. It now goes to the President for consideration and signature.

The issue many face lies in salary negotiation, something Senator O’Reilly says women tend to fare worse in. For some, this is “because they may have taken time to be with young children, or there is a perception that they can’t do the job as well as a man.” She calls the proposed pay gap legislation “historic and an important step to gender equality”.

In speaking to the Irish Times, Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman said that women have been at the forefront of demanding equality. But he adds that “the onus cannot just be on individual women”. He says “the Government has to play its key role in creating a more equal society and economy”.

The 30% Club promotes gender diversity in business. Gillian Harford is their Executive, who says the pay gap is often driven by “unequal representation of women” in higher-paid roles. The Club welcomes the transparency but says the really important part is “the commitment to action that it will hopefully drive”.

As we wait for the Bill to officially pass to see what change it brings about, the fight for equality continues. Groups like the 30% Club and the National Women’s Council of Ireland are working hard to make the country a more equal one.