Time to equally celebrate our (s)heroes
Be it Veer (Rani Mukherjee) in the movie Dil bole Hadippa, the Phogat sisters in Dangal or Mithali in Shabaash Mithu, struggles of females athletes in the world of sports are widely portrayed in Indian cinema. But of course, these struggles are neither limited to Bollywood scripts nor to the real sports arena.
If you’re a woman in India Inc, you are probably paid 20% less than your male counterparts. That’s the hugely sexist corporate environment in our country. India was ranked 135 among 146 nations in terms of gender parity by the World Economic Forum (WEF), 2022. And, this is, after our rankings improved by five places since last year!
What is the Gender pay gap?
The gender pay gap is the gap in the overall earnings of men and women. It does not include women who have voluntarily stayed out of the workforce or have taken a sabbatical.
As per the Monster Salary Index survey, 2019, this gender pay gap spans across industries be it manufacturing, IT/ITES, or even Bollywood. Surprisingly, even in female-dominated sectors like healthcare, caring services, and social work, Indian men are reported to be earning 20% more than women.
But amidst all this, one body seems to have hit the pay disparity with a six and that’s Cricket!
The “Chak De” moment!
In what is being touted as a historic move, the Board of Control for Cricket in India or more popularly known as BCCI announced equal pay for India’s male and female contracted cricketers.
I’m pleased to announce @BCCI’s first step towards tackling discrimination. We are implementing pay equity policy for our contracted @BCCIWomen cricketers. The match fee for both Men and Women Cricketers will be same as we move into a new era of gender equality in indian Cricket.
This means that the Women’s Cricket team will be paid match fees of ₹15 lakh per Test, ₹6 lakh per ODI, and ₹3 lakh per T20I, the same as male cricketers.
This news was not just celebrated by the sports fraternity but left the entire nation cheering.
But, why are we so delighted?
We still celebrate these decisions and call them historic, despite a 46-year-old law of the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. The law has still not been able to uphold this fundamental human right for Indian women.
But is this move really a parity?
Women’s team play much less cricket than their male counterparts (In last 10 years Indian Women’s Team has hardly played any test and IPL is yet to begin next year!). So even if they get the same match fees as men, their overall earnings will still be lower.
Plus, BCCI has only announced parity in per-match fees which would hardly burden the cash-rich BCCI. The still exists a massive gap in retainership fees that needs to be corrected.
The annual retainers for women cricketers are — Rs 50 lakh for Grade A, Rs 30 lakh for Grade B, and Rs 10 lakh for Grade C. The male counterparts on the other hand get Rs 1-7 crore, depending on their grade.
In a nutshell, equal pay is one thing, equal opportunity for equal pay is a totally different dimension.
How to get this right?
There is often no such pay gap at early stages of their career, but the problem starts as women advance and moves up the corporate ladder.
Career breaks, gendered leadership, lack of opportunities, glass partition, or just maybe they are not aggressive negotiators have accentuated this pay gap.
Board-level representation due to regulatory requirements has not yet resulted in a significant increase in the percentage of women at senior (only 7%) and top management levels (mere 5%). They still occupy support functions at the senior level rather than key business roles that pay more.
Even if we get the hygiene factors in place, there are still unconscious biases that need to change. It’s quite sad that subconsciously women are still seen as secondary bread earners both by men and women.
Removal of these stereotypes is perhaps a more crucial element in the pay parity debate.
Afterall, Mhaari chhoriyan chhoro se kam hai ke!
In June this year, Google had to pay $118 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit in US alleging that the company forced its women workforce into lower career tracks leading to lesser pay and slower promotion compared to its male employees. Till such active enforcement is implemented in India, pay parity announcements like these will continue to be lauded as historic.
Rather than celebrating, we should rather be penalizing organizations that do not put their women employees on par with men. It’s high this moves from being an exception to a rule.