International Parity at Work Day – 11th January
Written by Roneel Narayan on January 11, 2023
No matter their skin colour, race, the nation of origin, religion, or gender, it is only right and reasonable for people to be paid fairly equally for performing the same jobs for their employers.
Sadly, despite many decades of activism toward workplace equality, workers continue to experience pay inequality in workplaces all over the globe.
International Parity at Work Day is meant to bring attention to this continuing issue, as employers and governments work toward levelling the playing field and bringing about social change and fairness in the workplace.
History of International Parity at Work Day
The background of pay inequality can be traced back throughout human history. One obvious issue is related to the fact that women have often been considered lesser in many cultures, but these problems are also connected to discrimination due to race, religion, skin colour, or even those who are differently abled. Pay inequality has been and continues to be a rampant problem present throughout most societies even in this modern age.
Some progress can be seen in certain spaces, countries and workplaces, including seeing the gender pay gap become smaller over the years in the US and the UK. Even so, the issues and need for parity in pay continue. International Parity at Work Day was founded to bring awareness to these problems and seek ways to resolve them.
In the mid-20th century, especially in some Western countries, the conversation about gender pay particularly came to the forefront through the International Labor Organization as well as US Congress passing initiatives into law. Throughout the 1990s, however, little was done to move in the right direction toward parity in the workplace, particularly in the United States.
Establishing a foundation for this day, Equal Pay Day was started in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in the US. This day was meant to bring attention to the number of days women have to work without pay in order to finally get equal pay with men. Equal Pay Day usually falls in early April or late March.
Even with work toward raising awareness, such as Equal Pay Day, the disparity in pay continued into the early 21st century, leading to the inaugural International Parity at Work Day. First celebrated in 2017, International Parity at Work Day began in countries around the world, including countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Australia, Sri Lanka and others.
In the UK, the inaugural celebration for International Parity at Work Day was held in London where events connected people of diverse backgrounds through multicultural performances, Q&A conversations and sharing of educational resources related to pay discrimination and equality. Hosted by Aon UK, the event featured inspirational conversations such as how Harry Specters Chocolates has enabled employment for autistic people.
During the first year of the day’s celebration in Japan, many doctors got together to address the problem of discrimination against women entering into medical school. An unofficial standard limit had been set, only allowing only 30% of the student body in medical schools to be female. In an effort to create more parity, many senior doctors worked to lobby universities to allow women equal access to study medicine.
Now, International Parity at Work Day is celebrated annually with the hope that it will continue to grow in scope and effectiveness as employers are challenged to provide a just and fair workplace for people of every colour, gender, religion and more, no matter where they are in the world.