Cyprus Editorial: Debate on gender pay equality -- a non-starter

29 March, 2018 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

All the recent talk about pay equality and the gender gap when it comes to pay and earnings, could probably be considered as irrelevant to Cyprus. There is no doubt that such matters need to be debated openly and resolved, but to be fair, Cyprus should be ranked among the top countries with little, if any, difference in pay.

However, this is not what needs to be discussed, but rather two other major issues that remain unresolved, for political or even chauvinistic reasons.

The first is that the real inequality that exists in Cyprus is in pay levels between the private and public sector. If calculated on the basis of productivity and contribution to national output, there is no doubt that the private sector workers’ input is proportionally higher, but their wages significantly lower, a matter that will remain unresolved as it serves the interests of the trade unions and their political party paymasters who need to keep the civil servants, semi-government sector and banking employees happy at all times.

Cyprus should be commended for being among the best rated countries when it comes to full equality in the public sector, as, based on merit and qualifications, there is no difference in gender pay. What does exist is the chauvinistic approach, not only of the employer/governments, but even of the parents themselves who continue to segregate between what an ideal career is for a young man and what for a woman, hence their studies or specialisation. Fortunately, this trend is fast becoming outmoded as more and more women are challenging job positions traditionally reserved for men.

The inequality that exists is career advancement opportunities and how pay for certain jobs, based solely on their union-imposed scales, often skews the result of studies in this field.

If the excuse in the private sector is that men dominate businesses because of legacy or inheritance, then why did the incumbent president fail to appoint more women to his cabinet, an action that would have broken the barriers of inequality and silenced, once and for all, all those who campaign for quotas when it comes to hiring women or appointing them to boards.

Although female CEOs of major organisations can be counted on the fingers of one, at most, two hands, the number of female Directors General and senior officers in civil service is disproportionally much higher.

Once we debate equal pay in the private sector proportional to the public sector, only then we can start talking about gender equality.