Views / Metro Views

Column

Metro News globe

Metro Views

Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

Vicky Mochama: Why is the onus on women to take radical actions?

When employees — especially male employees — become more candid about their pay, we will see a more equitable workplace.

On Jan. 1, Iceland became the first country to pass legislation making equal pay the law.

Adventure Canada via Torstar News Service

On Jan. 1, Iceland became the first country to pass legislation making equal pay the law.

I’ve had quite enough and I am moving to Iceland.

On Jan. 1, the plucky island nation became the first country to pass legislation making equal pay the law.

Or I could do what the BBC’s China editor has chosen to do: quit.

Carrie Grace, a senior journalist at the BBC for over 30 years, left the U.K.’s public broadcaster citing a “crisis of trust” over equal pay for women.

After the BBC revealed the salaries of its top journalists, Grace concluded that women were earning less than men. Moreover, when she and other women asked for compensation that matched their male counterparts’, they were rebuffed or given smaller-than-requested increases. In an open letter published this week, she wrote, “For the first time, women saw hard evidence of what they’d long suspected, that they are not being valued equally.”

Alternatively, I could make eloquent arguments: that pay equity levels the career playing field in ways that go beyond money; that earning less than men makes women vulnerable to coercion; that pay equity improves economic outlooks for families and thus for communities and, indeed, for the nation.

But, as I pack my boxes and look at real estate in Reykjavik, I have to wonder: why is the onus on women, who are decidedly underpaid and often overworked, to take radical actions? Why must we make the same arguments repeatedly, often not to be heard?

It’s not as if pay equity is a niche issue. Or even a women-only issue. Racialized men earn less for their labour than white men. Trans women and women with disabilities face a serious wage gap that can exacerbate the oppressions they face. Immigrant women are more likely to work low-paying, precarious and treacherous jobs.

As Grace discovered, once salaries were made more transparent, women were better able to advocate for themselves.

When employers — and yes, the men in charge of many of them (... for now) — decide to make incomes more transparent, then I will believe that a feminist revolution has hit the corporate world. And when employees — especially male employees — become more candid about their pay, we will see a more equitable workplace.

Like many women, I am thoroughly frustrated. But I will, for the present moment, wait it out before packing my bags or my desk.

Quitting or leaving won’t help me or any other women receive what we are due. At least, not yet.

More on Metronews.ca