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Fianna Fáil: Gender pay gap the next big issue in society

Removing the gender pay gap will be the next big issue that must be tackled in society, a Fianna Fáil senator has claimed.

The party's Seanad deputy leader Lorraine Clifford-Lee will join others in Leinster House tomorrow raising awareness of gaps in the workplace and the need for gender equality.

Ms Clifford-Lee and others will promote 'Dress for Success', a campaign which promotes the economic independence of women by providing career development services and advocates equal opportunities for women in the workplace.

Ahead of briefing colleagues in Leinster House, the senator called for an immediate end to the pay gap which results in Irish men on average receiving salaries 14% higher than women.

She said that companies could be more supportive and transparent too, improving opportunities for women.

Better supports could include improving childcare options, publishing company policies on maternity leave as well as for shared parental leave.

“It is about stopping discrimination and also ensuring that there are fairer and more transparent policies,” said Ms Clifford-Lee.

"It is about a shift in culture.

The pay gap will be the next big gender issue in Irish society.

'Dress for Success' is also promoting the setting up of a ‘pay disclosure pioneers’ measure. This would see the charity bringing together leading businesses that have committed to early pay disclosure before Ireland’s proposed new gender pay gap laws come into effect.

The changes, spearheaded by Labour senator Ivana Bacik, will eventually come in under the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill. This is expected to come before the Oireachtas by the end of the year.

It obliges big employers to reveal the difference in the average hourly pay of men and women in their firm.

Ms Clifford-Lee added: “Those who deny this issue now are burying their heads in the sand. Instead, they should look to jurisdictions like Australia and the UK to see the positive legislative measures that have been implemented there, and the way in which workplaces have proactively responded.”

Ms Clifford-Lee also joins Sonya Lennon, a designer, businesswoman and a founder of 'Dress for Success', to launch its work equal day of action.

Ms Lennon said: “This is the third year we’ve run our work campaign, which aims to highlight the gender pay gap, the issues that feed into it, and the measures that can be taken to achieve true workplace equality.

“This is ridiculous: impartial statistics agencies – ranging from the CSO to Eurostat – have collated and analysed the data that irrefutably shows Ireland has a gender pay gap of 14%.

"Poor childcare facilities and lack of shared parental leave certainly contribute to the gender pay gap, but it is an immensely complex issue and it is not something that just impacts on working mothers – it affects us all.”