Pay equity problem persists in Canadian workplaces


Compensation for working Canadians still favours men, according to a new study by Leger Research commissioned by ADP Canada. Based on self-reported figures, men say they earn an average of $66,504 per year – 25.5% more than the reported average of $49,721 for women. This gap widens as it relates to additional compensation like bonuses and profit sharing, where men report annual earnings averaging $5,823 and women report an average of $3,912 – a 32.8% difference.

The workforce also appears to be divided when it comes to the perception of their employer’s practices around pay equity. Nearly 80% of men believe that men and women are compensated equally within their workplace, while less than two-thirds of women (62%) believe the same.

Although a gap – actual and perceived – persists, the Canadian workforce continues to apply pressure within their organizations to achieve parity, with nearly half of all workers (45%) saying they would leave their current employer if they found out that a colleague of equal standing received preferential compensation based on gender.

“It’s alarming to see that in 2019 there remains an impactful difference in compensation for Canadian men and women,” says Sooky Lee, General Manager, Human Resource Outsourcing, ADP Canada. “With women comprising nearly half of today’s workforce and thriving in roles and responsibilities that match their male peers, organizations – and executive teams – that do not make pay equity a corporate priority risk losing the ability to attract top talent.”

With only 63% of executives indicating they believe men and women are equally compensated, it is clear that senior leadership teams recognize there is a pay gap issue; however, only 31% indicate pay equity is a priority within their organization.

“Every Canadian organization understands the challenges associated with attracting and retaining top talent in what is becoming an increasingly tight labour market – and those poised to succeed realize they cannot afford to expect a compensation discount for half of the talent pool available based on gender,” adds Lee. “Companies that build a culture around inclusion, diversity, and equality in all forms – especially compensation – stand to benefit greatly in the fight for talent.”

Survey Details

The survey of 815 Canadians working in full-time and part-time roles uncovered a wealth of insights around the current state of compensation in the Canadian market. Some of the most notable include:

  • Women reported earning less than $30,000 at nearly twice the rate (26%) of their male counterparts (14%)
  • Millennials (9.8%) and those nearing the end of their careers (aged 65+ – 12.6%) were most likely to report earning more than $10,000 in additional non-salary compensation each year
  • Managers (72%) were the most likely group to believe that pay equity is a priority in their organization, while executives (31%) were the most likely to say it is not a priority in their organization
  • Millennials (52%) are the most likely to say they would leave their current employer if they found out that a colleague of equal role and standing but different gender received greater compensation than they did

The survey also revealed interesting compensation and pay equity trends across each of Canada’s major regions. Some of the most notable include:


  • Substantially more likely to believe that equal compensation is being achieved in salary (78%), bonuses (77%) and pay equity as a priority for management (77%) than the rest of Canada (66%)
  • Much more likely (62%) to report no additional compensation beyond salary than national average (49%)
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