The Head of Public Affairs of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, Mr. Earl Ankrah, has encouraged women to strive to continuously add value to whatever skills they possess throughout their career lives, as that is the surest way to enhance their financial status at the workplace. He was speaking to Natalia Andoh, host of the “Mid-morning Show on Class FM” in an edition last Tuesday dedicated to Equal Pay, to raise awareness on gender pay gap.
Mr. Ankrah said, in the public service of Ghana, there is no such thing as gender pay gap. He explained that first of all, the constitution frowns on discrimination of any kind, including gender-related discrimination. Additionally, the Labour Act specifically dictates equal pay for equal work. Besides, with the Single Spine Pay Policy, there are job evaluation factors that come into play in the setting of salaries. They include knowledge (academic qualification), experience, mental effort, physical effort, financial responsibility, responsibility to assets, supervisory responsibility, risks and hazards on the job, among other factors. “None of those factors which determine how an employee is placed on the salary structure, has anything to do with gender. The Single Spine is gender blind”, he emphasized.
Mr. Ankrah acknowledged however that, things are quite different in the private sector and within some multi-national organisations, where certain components of salaries are usually negotiated on individual basis and are mostly confidential. “The perceptions of pay inequality are mostly true. If it can happen at the BBC, it can happen anywhere”, he said.
When asked why that is the case, he said men are usually more assertive when negotiating their salaries, while women are mostly considerate and understanding, especially when an employer gives that ‘things would get better’ vibe. Ankrah added, “Men tend to be more forward in flaunting what they bring to the table and reminding the employer of their pivotal role in the firm”. He made reference to a ‘CNN Money’ programme experiment on how the different genders negotiate a pay raise, with CNN anchors Samuel Burke and Clare Sebastian. Mr. Ankrah said, “During the exercise, Clare pushed for a 6% pay raise, but Burke made a wild leap for a 10% raise” [SEE CNN VIDEO BELOW].
Natalia Andoh asked Earl if other factors contribute to this situation. Mr. Ankrah responded that usually, most men negotiate with an eye on their financial responsibilities back at home like rent, utilities, school fees, and in some cases, daily groceries (referred to as chop money); meanwhile, there could be a capital-intensive project on the side. “Hence men look at the bottom-line and if it doesn’t make economic sense, they either walk or take the job temporarily but continue looking for better offers. Women on the other hand, although also have financial responsibilities, try to avoid the tension that comes with such sensitive negotiations, hence tend not to drag things for too long.”
Asked if women have the right to ask for more, Ankrah – who participates in national-level negotiations between the Government of Ghana and Unions replied, “Of course, if she is really sure that is the situation, she can initiate a negotiation”, but advised that women must not use gender as the primary reason to demand more. “You must lean on the principle of equal pay for equal work and highlight the similarities between your output and that of your male colleague. Output it is; not just because you both hold the same positions, but because you actually do match his productivity”, said Ankrah. “In that position, an employer who is otherwise insensitive to gender equality, would be compelled to use your value, rather than your gender, to fix your salary. At FWSC, we refer to it as: equal pay for work of equal value”.
He lamented however that in the most cases, women are disadvantaged, owing to situations outside of the workplace, beyond their control – when they have no help. Under circumstances where bonuses are pegged to extra work done, family responsibilities (like having to leave on time to pick the kids from school and going home to take care of stuff), act as impediments to women’s earnings. But the man is able to work late or accept assignments that take him away from home over the weekends, etc. “Once these exigencies are taken care of, women can match or even outperform men at the workplace and therefore earn more. That way, you should not only be gunning for equality, but even higher”. He therefore encouraged women to take seriously, the need to constantly update their skills, as that is the silver bullet to outdoing their male counterparts and raising their financial clout at the workplace.
In a related interview with TheAfricanDream.net following up on the Class FM interview, Earl Ankrah further encouraged women not to only aim at just levelling up, but rising over and above their male colleagues in skill and commensurate financial value. “Your skill is your purchasing power”, he said. “The more knowledge, experience, dexterity and mental effort you bring to the table, the higher your value becomes. The more polished your skill, the more demand there is for it, not just at your workplace, but outside of it. And the higher the demand for that rare skill, the higher your rewards”, he hinted. “Purchasing power isn’t just money. It is the value of the skill which rakes in that money of commensurate value”, said Ankrah. Challenging women to focus on the bigger picture, he said, “Your target should not be what coins trickle into some man’s wallet, but what bundles bloat your purse, courtesy of your high skills”.
Earl Ankrah is a former national television anchor and a women’s and children’s rights advocate. He is currently a policy communications practitioner, Media/PR/Marketing consultant, a macro-level HR expert and an experienced negotiator. He has also done some marketing consultancy for Best Western Premiere (Airport Hotel), in Accra Ghana. Mr. Ankrah has been an occasional contributing Senior Editor at TheAfricanDream.net since 2019.
Written by Oral Ofori