Women in the Labour Market. Gender equality is still a myth [video].

Career Cycle


The Congress of Women Association has prepared a report on the situation of women in the post-pandemic labour market. Although there is much public discussion about equal treatment of women and men in the labour market, in practice things are not so bright. The report reveals that the disadvantaged position of women in the labour market has remained largely unchanged over the last four years and, additionally, a whopping 78 per cent of employees have never heard of ‘gender pay gap’ and pay inequality has not been addressed at all in 70 per cent of companies. Where does this problem come from?

‘They tend to work in lower positions, get lower pay and have lower old-age pensions. All this makes the situation of women far from good. For instance, more than 300,000 women have left the labour market in the aftermath of COVID. Their absence from the labour market is more or less permanent, and they do not re-enter the workforce, as they have to take care of their families, kids or parents. These care duties take up a great share of their time, and they are unable to work’, explains Dr. Ewa Rumińska-Zimny, Vice-President of the Congress of Women Association.

Persistent myths

Men often cite maternity as the reason for women not to engage in work. An astounding one-fifth of the interviewees share this view. On top of that, every tenth man believes that women earn lower pay due to poorer qualifications, whereas in Poland, for every 100 males with a degree, there are more than 180 female graduates. This is one of the highest ratios in the European Union.

With its patriarchal approach, the government is not helpful either in the battle for equal rights. As a result, women are discouraged from taking up work as there is a persistent view that their place is in the home, nurturing the family, and thus they earn less. Although there do exist laws mandating equal pay, they are virtually impossible to enforce. The EU Pay Transparency Directive is seen as an opportunity to bring about change.

‘Here in Poland, there is a strong sentiment for non-transparency of pay levels at companies. As such, if you do not know how much the gender pay gap is in the company, then you have legal rights but you cannot exercise them. The new EU Pay Transparency Directive is intended to make that happen and soon businesses will be required to report their gender pay gap’, adds Dr. Ewa Rumińska-Zimny, Vice-President of the Congress of Women Association.

Work-life balance

Pay inequality is not the only issue facing women. Another one is their struggle to balance work and parenting, as both are very demanding and engrossing. The EU tries to help here too, through the enactment of the Work–Life Balance Directive. This Directive provides for greater involvement of men in care, which will enable equal opportunities for women in the labour market. Although in 2013, parental leave became available for men, just around 1 per cent of males use such leave annually.

‘By implementing non-transferable leave for fathers, or leave that cannot be transferred to the woman, the Directive will encourage men to use it. However, the legislature has not harnessed the full potential of that solution in setting the pay during that leave at 70%. Such leave pay could be higher; we have advocated for 81.5% or even 100%. That level of leave pay would make the solution affordable for a greater number of families in Poland. And this is where employers can come into play to top up that missing 30 per cent of pay in order to take down the financial barrier and allow their father employees to use that leave entitlement. This is one of the ways to build parental equality at the organisation’, says Karolina Andrian, President of the Share the Care Foundation.

Responsible business

Both interviewees argue that the ball is in the employers’ court and employers do not have to wait until gender equality-friendly solutions are required of them by law. Business can and should meet the needs of employees (in this case primarily female employees) and take responsibility for providing true equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market. The same applies to employers outside the commercial sector, e.g., government agencies or NGOs. Hence, initiatives such as ‘RównoWaga, or Gender Balance at Work. Female-Friendly Company of the Year Competition’ sponsored by the Kulczyk Foundation, the Congress of Women Association and the Polish Confederation Lewiatan. By showing best practices across five areas of corporate activity (Gender Equality Policy and Mechanisms; Growth and Education; Work–Life Balance; Pay; and Health and Well-Being), the competition sponsors want to promote equal-opportunity driven governance models. Data demonstrate that there is still much to be done in all of these areas and thus pro-active corporate policies in each is a must to equalise opportunities for women and men in the labour market. There is much more than awards and prestige to win in the competition. Above all, it is an opportunity to develop better standards for employees. For more, please refer to the competition website: https://rownowaga.org.pl/

Więcej na stronie konkursu: https://rownowaga.org.pl/
Tekst został opublikowany na https://cyklkariery.wp.pl/