Pay equity issues still present in the engineering and geosciences professions

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The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) recently reassessed five years of data from its annual salary survey and found that pay equity issues continue to create a barrier to inclusion in industries of engineering and geosciences.

However, there are strategies that can be implemented to level the playing field.

In a session titled Show Me The Money !, Mohamed El Daly, P.Eng, Director of Outreach and Product Services at APEGA, shared the results at the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers held earlier this month.

“The first result is that the proportion of women in the engineering and geoscience profession has not changed significantly over the past five years,” El Daly said.

“At first glance, it remains at 20%. If we take a closer look at these numbers, we notice that there are more women entering the profession than leaving it, however, since these are mostly men, the percentage is not growing as fast as we are. would like. As more and more programs and efforts are put into the area of ​​equity, diversity and inclusion, we hope to see that number increase. This is an objective that APEGA has set itself, we call it 30 out of 30: 30% of professional women by 2030. “

The analysis also found that the proportion of women in the upper grades has not changed significantly in five years.

“He averages 10 percent at the top levels… which is senior management and C suite and above,” El Daly explained. “In order to increase the number of women at the senior level, more women are needed at entry levels and at skilled levels, more efforts need to be made to increase the levels of promotion of women across the country. organization as well as their retention. “

The base salary is not significantly differentiated by gender, he added. Male and female incumbents with between one and five years of experience are remunerated relatively the same. The inequity becomes more evident at the higher level.

“The pay gap between men and women at the skilled and senior levels is statistically significant,” El Daly said. “In 2018, the average base salary for women was 88.4% of the base salary for men. There could be different reasons for this, but the contextual factors cited by Mercer, our consultant, were the level or grade and type of work performed, the location of the position in the company and the organization in which you work. .

The gap begins to widen between five and ten years and grows from there.

“One assumption that is being made here is that this is the time when a number of professional women would take parental leave,” El Daly said. “When they go on parental leave and return, years of experience don’t count towards their total experience, while their male counterparts add years of experience. As companies continue to value wages and are correlated with years of experience and not necessarily skills, this gap will continue to widen. “

It provided some action items for leaders and organizations.

“The research provided us with a benchmark and identified the main drivers of gender representation and provided us with some recommendations regarding the most important levers to increase female representation, including hiring, promotion and retention,” he said. he declared. “It also highlighted the bottlenecks women face depending on where they are in their professional journey. These bottlenecks are mainly promotion at the professional level and access to profit and loss positions at the management level. “

Anyone in a leadership position can help the women on his staff by looking at who holds certain roles and giving women access to those roles, he said.

“How many profit and loss roles are led by women? ” He asked. “These roles have a higher pay than those who are not responsible for a budget and, therefore, there is additional pay attached to them.”

Managers can also participate in unconscious bias training and encourage their staff to do the same. Unconscious biases don’t just come into play during the hiring process, they also play a role in day-to-day interactions, El Daly pointed out.

“Another element in which leaders can play an important role is to facilitate or support a transition or ‘return’ program when they have staff on parental or general leave,” El Daly said. “APEGA has published a Transition Management document and you can find it on the APEGA EDI website. It helps people going on leave – men, women and others – plan their leave accordingly and the considerations to take into account before going on leave, while on leave, as they prepare to return and return.

Organizations are also encouraged to review job postings for overtly masculine language and structure.

“What does your job posting say about your business and the culture of your business? Does it invite and welcome a diverse pool of people to apply to your business? El Daly asked.

He also suggested that organizations conduct regular salary surveys.

“This will help you make sure there is no pay inequality and reduce the risk of pay cuts,” he said. “Switch to skills-based pay instead of experience-based pay. Instead of just counting years of experience since graduation, assess the skills required by each job and pay accordingly for skills rather than years of experience.

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.


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