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We learned that Ontarians support the use of parental leaves to help with family-work life balance and caregiving. Participants also said there needed to be more flexibility in leave policies so that parents would not have to take their leaves all at once. Shared parental leave, with reserved portions for each parent, aims to make it normal in workplaces to have both parents take time off to raise their children.

If shared equally between the parents, the new leave provision may help promote retention of skills, due to earlier return to work for both parents. The government should combine the job-protected pregnancy and parental leave provisions in the Employment Standards Act, to establish a Parental Shared Leave. If coordinated federal benefits are not available to support the Parental Shared Leave, then the provincial government should explore options for a provincial insurance benefit plan with flexible options to top up current EI rates, or explore other options to fund leaves such as a registered leave savings plan, modelled after the Registered Education Savings Plan.

Work performed or dominated by women has historically been, and continues to be, undervalued. This is a major contributor to the gender wage gap.


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There are two main methods for ensuring that women are compensated for the value of their work: equal pay for equal work and pay equity equal pay for work of equal value. Both pay equity and equal pay for equal work have been identified as a human right by Canada, federally, and by the United Nations. This term refers to the concept of "equal pay for work of equal value", and allows for comparing different jobs within an establishment. In Ontario, equal pay for equal work and pay equity are found in two pieces of legislation, described below.

They are enforced by separate bodies, using different mechanisms and criteria. The Employment Standards Act, covers equal pay for equal work.

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This provision requires women and men to receive equal pay when they do the same or substantially the same job in the same establishment. The Pay Equity Act covers equal pay for work of equal value or pay equity. Pay equity requires employers to pay female jobs at least the same as male jobs if they are of comparable value, based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. During our consultations, many women told us they are not paid equally when performing the same work as their male colleagues.

It applies to all public sector employers and to all private sector employers with 10 or more employees.

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The pay equity process is meant to uncover gender bias in compensation systems that may favour work historically done by men, over work historically done by women, using recognized compensation comparison techniques. Both Acts are held up nationally and internationally as models for others because they require employers to ensure that they comply with the Act and are not dependent upon a complaint being filed.

This type of law is referred to as proactive. At the federal level, the Task Force on Pay Equity recommended a proactive pay equity law and an independent pay equity agency to enforce it. Parliament of Canada. Special Committee on Pay Equity. During our consultations we heard strong support for the continuance of the Ontario Pay Equity Act as currently administered, with a call for increased resources and better, more robust enforcement.

In addition, the government should ensure the enforcement agency for the Act has sufficient capacity to support its role. Female-dominant jobs can be undervalued within organizations and by sector. The majority of female-dominant work is found in caring professions in the public sector, including home care, community living, child care, and domestic violence. Women in female-dominant sectors could not access pay equity remedies until , when the proxy method was added to the Act.

The proxy method allows certain public sector employers with only female job classes to borrow job descriptions and salary information from another public sector employer the proxy employer with similar female job classes, to make comparisons and establish pay equity job rates.

New Brunswick achieves pay equity in its Broader Public Sector by negotiating standardized job descriptions and establishing male comparators, sector by sector, with the relevant unions and then also applying the rates to non-unionized environments. More recently, the province has implemented wage enhancement programs in an attempt to raise the wage floors of child care and personal support workers.

We heard that these programs, while welcome, have had serious impacts on those employers who are still attempting to achieve pay equity using the proxy method. For example, if the wages of some female jobs are raised through a wage enhancement program, the organization may be required to raise the wages of other female jobs, without the help of a wage enhancement, in order to ensure pay equity requirements are met. Even though the proxy method extended pay equity into sectors that were, and continue to be female-dominant, not all employees in female-dominant sectors in or outside the BPS are covered by proxy.

For those workers, wages continue to be low despite the fact that their work may require educational and professional qualifications e. In the child care sector, we also heard that increasing numbers of students are choosing not to continue their work after initial training because of low wages and limited job opportunities, and current workers are leaving to pursue other career options. As a result, education and training investments are lost. Raising wages, benefits and improving working conditions in these sectors may attract and retain employees, improve the quality of care, and increase the way society values caregiving and other female-dominant work.

While many workplaces may be progressive in their outlook on gender and supportive of women workers, we heard about experiences where women felt they were being overlooked for promotions, did not receive credit for teamwork with men, or were assigned projects that did not make good use of their skills. Over time, these practices may result in a gender wage gap within an organization. Many companies and business executives have begun to realize the benefits of openly promoting gender diversity and equality goals.

McKinsey Global Institute. There is evidence that a more gender diverse workforce can improve performance, create a business culture that attracts the most talented employees, reduce staff turnover, enhance organizational performance and lead to better financial outcomes for the enterprise. March The Business Case for Gender Equality. Some organizations may have sufficient resources or knowledge about these human resource practices. Others may have already introduced measures to address gender wage inequalities. Some may not be aware of the issue. We heard that pay transparency and an analysis of how gender bias may affect women and men are good places to start.

Making pay information available can remove opportunities for pay discrimination, helping to shift the business culture and expectations towards greater equality. With knowledge of pay rates or ranges, employees are in a better position to negotiate fairer salaries.

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Research shows that women negotiate their salaries less often than men. Babcock, L. Studies also show that when women negotiate, they are more likely to be penalized or not hired, than men who ask for the same thing. Bowles, H. Social incentives for gender differences in the propensity to initiate negotiations: Sometimes it does hurt to ask.

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 1 , Knowledge of pay rates or ranges may also allow employees to access their rights to equal pay and pay equity. In the U. April 8, Executive Order —Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information that promoted pay transparency by prohibiting pay secrecy. The aim was to make it possible for co-workers and job applicants to share information about their compensation without fear of discrimination or reprisal.

The executive order says that employees and job applicants cannot be let go or discriminated against because they inquired about or discussed compensation information. During consultations we heard that some form of pay transparency is necessary.

Final report and recommendations of the Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee

Exactly what and how pay is made transparent can range from employers providing information on pay setting philosophy, policies or procedures, market studies of wage rates, or aggregated pay rates or ranges. Pay transparency is an excellent first step to identifying and correcting other practices that may have an impact on the gender wage gap. We heard that many employers do not really know if they have systemic issues related to gender in their organization.

Moving beyond pay transparency, many jurisdictions are using gender analytic programs that require businesses to examine their workforce profile, and human resources and employment policies and practices for any unintentional gender biases in:. Collecting and analyzing gender-specific statistics are essential to bring awareness to disparities in the workplace.

A standardized approach to gender data production, collection and assessment needs to be developed and applied. A gender perspective needs to be incorporated into all aspects of data production, including the forming of gender-relevant variables, collection methods, presentation and distribution. Once workplace data has been collected, employers and employees can diagnose if there are barriers that are preventing women from fully engaging in the workplace. Employers can then make the necessary changes to remove these barriers.

In Ontario, the Pay Equity Office Wage Gap Pilot project may be instructive, as it dealt broadly with a simple gender workforce analysis.


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Pay Equity Office Results of the Wage Gap Pilot Program. The high participation rate and the gender wage gaps found during this program indicate that a workforce gender analysis is useful in Ontario. The organization reporting needs a One-key account on ServiceOntario to log in and use the Accessibility Compliance Reporting tool. The questions asked depends on the size of the organization. Women, as leaders, become role models and that may help shift cultural and organizational norms.

Currently, women are still under-represented in leadership positions. Research has found that gender diversity in corporate leadership is linked to improved governance and stronger performance in both financial and non-financial measures.