Equal pay makes appearance at the Oscars

Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech has drawn mainstream attention to the gender wage gap – are you doing enough to close it?

When Patricia Arquette stepped up to accept her Oscar on Sunday night, the Boyhood actress delivered a rousing speech that not only won vocal support from the entire audience but also struck a chord with HR professionals everywhere.

“To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation – we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

The 46-year-old’s rousing speech may have been aimed at a US audience but Canadians are by no means exempt – the most recent Statistics Canada data shows that the gender wage gap in Ontario is 26 per cent for full-time workers.

That means that for every $1 earned by a male worker, a female worker earns 74 cents – statisticians estimate that as much as 10 to 15 per cent of this is due to discrimination.

When the Pay Equality Act was passed in 1987, the gender wage gap stood at 36 per cent which means it’s taken a full 28 years to narrow the gap by just 10 per cent.

The wording of Arquette’s speech also draws particular attention to mothers – who suffer most in the gender wage gap.

According to Statistics Canada, working mothers earn between 12 and 20 per cent less than women without children.

Rather alarmingly, this inequality helped Canada fall behind Portugal, Estonia, Slovenia and 15 other countries in terms of conditions that make a country a good place to be a mother – ranking 19th out of 43 countries.

Arquette’s speech is just one more sign that the issue is finally gaining traction in the mainstream media and encourages employers to re-examine any inequalities they may have.

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