BACKGROUND: The Closing the Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee (hereafter called the Committee) conducted research and determined the gender wage is the result of barriers and Ontario laws that are hindering women’s full participation in the labour market, and made recommendations to resolve these issues. The Committee recognized closing the gender wage gap (GWG) is complex but has great potential to benefit society and Ontario’s economy. Changing social norms and behaviours is one of the solutions identified in the Committee’s Final Report (Ministry of Labour, 2015). Recommendation 13 of the Committee’s Report states: “The government should develop a prolonged and sustained social awareness strategy to: Help people understand the impact of gender bias, promote gender equality at home, at work and in the community, increase the public’s understanding of the causes of the gender wage gap and why it is important to close the gap” (Ministry of Labour, 2015, p. 10).
Examples of areas that require social awareness campaigns regarding GWG include systemic gender discrimination, workplace culture, hiring and promotion practices, and education. Research points to continued systemic gender discrimination and conscious or unconscious biased societal attitudes towards women. For example, data points to continued intersectional discrimination and gaps with immigrant women and women with disabilities who earn less than 75% of that of men. Two industries where this is prevalent are Engineering and Computer Sciences and the Trades (Ministry of Labour, 2015). Workplace culture refers to, “Organizational perceptions and practices in the workplace are another element that tends to contribute to differences in the way men and women experience working life” (Ministry of Labour, 2015, p.41). Workplace cultures and hiring and promotion practices are heavily influenced by the organization’s leaders and impact an individual’s career path and earning potential. Understanding projections in sectors growth is important as well. Training and education is needed to help women, especially those who experience intersectional discrimination, to gain the skills and knowledge needed to become qualified for and integrated into careers in professional, technical, and healthcare services (Ministry of Labour, 2015).
There are many examples of effective social awareness campaigns. The province’s recent campaign for “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment” (#WhoWillYouHelp) campaign with was award-winning social awareness campaign and received more than 85 million views worldwide to raise awareness and shift attitudes (Ministry of the Status of Women, 2016). Other successful social awareness campaigns have addressed using seatbelts, elder abuse, smoking, and mental health are or have changed behaviours and underlying social norms (Bell Let’s Talk, 2017; Ministry of Labour, 2016; Ministry of the Status of Women, 2015).
The Committee’s Final Report stated, “We live in a time where people recognize unconscious bias - but don’t voice what they see. That has to change so we can turn the culture around” (Ministry of Labour, 2016, p. 40). Creating an effective social awareness strategy which addresses ways to change social norms and behaviours which impact women’s work and family lives requires collaboration with all sectors of society to address (Ministry of Labour, 2015).
REFERENCES: Bell Let’s Talk. (2017). Our initiatives. Retrieved from http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/our-initiatives/
Ministry of Labour. (2015). Closing the gender wage gap: A background paper. Toronto: Author. Retrieved from https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/about/pdf/gg_background.pdf
Ministry of Labour. (2016). Final report and recommendations of the Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee prepared for Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. Toronto: Author. Retrieved from https://files.ontario.ca/7198_mol_gwg_finalreport_eng_wa_08f_v2_1.pdf
Ministry of the Status of Women. (2015). It’s Never Okay: An action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. Toronto: Author. Retrieved from http://docs.files.ontario.ca/documents/4136/mi-2003-svhap-report-en-for-tagging-final-2-up-s.pdf
Ministry of the Status of Women. (2016). Progress report 2015 – 2016: It’s Never Okay: An
action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. Toronto: Author. Retrieved from https://files.ontario.ca/mi-2005_svhap_progress_report_en.pdf
RESOLUTION: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Government of Ontario, specifically the Minister of the Status of Women and the Minister of Labour to develop and implement within 6 -12 months a sustained social awareness strategy campaign with a series of well-targeted messages to:
1. Help educate people to understand the impact of gender bias by challenging the attitudes and myths and encourage long-term generational shifts to end deep-rooted attitudes and behaviours
2. Spread the message of current research on gender perceptions and norms
3. Promote gender equality at home, at work, and in the community
4. Increase the public’s understanding of the causes of the gender wage gap and why it is important to close this gap
5. Help educate, inspire, and empower individuals, businesses, labour unions, and organizations how they can be part of the solution and what to do to effect change;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Government of Ontario, specifically the Minister of the Status of Women and the Minister of Labour to promote positive images and stories of women and men in a variety of occupations to show gender equality;
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Government of Ontario, specifically the Minister of the Status of Women and the Minister of Labour to partner with organizations to develop and deliver a wide range of awareness materials, through appropriate and innovative channels that provide best practices and share policies that have had a positive impact;
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Government of Ontario, specifically the Minister of the Status of Women and the Minister of Labour to evaluate the campaign’s effectiveness within 2 years.
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Article ID: 4387