8 March 2022

The glass ceiling has seen crack after crack stretching straight through it for decades upon decades, with women gradually finding evermore solid footing in the working world, to the extent that many labour rights pertaining to gender equality have today become a foregone conclusion. However it is without a doubt an undisputed fact that in spite of the great cracks, the shattering of the glass ceiling is a matter which we’ve yet to see in many global labour markets.

In a world where entire volumes of legislation have been enacted with the ultimate aim of guaranteeing a woman’s rights to equal treatment at the workplace, and that their skills and competences are given the regard they deserve, what happens in practice is a world away from what appears on paper. In the context of the traditional family nucleus, which in spite of rapid change is still a most fundamental concept even in the modern world, women remain normatively expected to take up the main caregiver roles in the family, for both children and elderly alike. This contributes to women’s absence from the workplace, or at best, their sacrifice from planned careers to take on less demanding employment to devote more time to care.

Several studies have concluded that there still exists a scathing pay gap between the genders, where Eurostat barometers have determined that even in Malta, the gender pay gap has been vacillating between the margins of 10% and 13%, which are rather significant in concluding that at some point in Malta, for every €10 a man earns, a woman would earn only €8.70. Latest Eurostat records report that the EU average stands at 13%, meaning that Malta has a rather long way to go to be even at par with its sister states in this regard, let alone to absolutely eliminate the gender pay gap once and for all.

Combatting these issues is not only a matter that should be left up to the legislator. Employers are very well suited – if not better suited – to take immediate action which may make a difference. Consider implementing healthier incentives for leave for family care for your employees which encourages persons of both genders to avail of – keep an eye out for several family oriented entitlements set to be introduced or amended in the coming months thanks to EU directives. Promote recognition of your female employees and ensure that they are provided with the training, appraisal and promotion opportunities which they deserve. We shouldn’t simply sit and wait for the law to guide us on which way to go – let us be proactive in ensuring a better future for all of us, built on equality, respect, and recognition of talent and competence which goes way beyond gender.