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Giraffe launches report on South African gender pay gap

To commemorate Women’s month, Giraffe, the automated recruitment platform for medium-skilled staff, released its first ever gender pay gap study today.

Giraffe has partnered with the World Bank and International Financial Corporate on the Digital2Equal initiative, alongside 16 other leading tech platforms including Uber, AirBNB and Linkedin. The Digital2Equal initiative aims to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities in emerging markets.

As part of its commitments to the Digital2Equal initiative, Giraffe analysed its database of close to one million candidates to generate an accurate representation of the pay gaps between male and female South African workers. Since Giraffe has highly granular data on age, location, education and work experience, this gender pay gap analysis is arguably the most detailed to date.

Most gender pay gap studies in South Africa have found that the gap is generally larger at the bottom of the wage distribution curve. Giraffe’s report largely focuses on the general working South African labour force and largely excludes highly skilled workers and senior executives. It confirms that on average men in South Africa earn on average 25% more than women.

Whilst the gap is reduced as the level of education increases, it is not eliminated. We show that the gender gap varies by industry, with hotels and retail paying women far worse than industries such as transport and IT. Finally we show that female managers earn 21% less than male managers doing effectively the same job.

Some of the major findings in this report reveal that:

  • On average South African men earn 25% more than women
  • South Africa ranks as one of the most equal paying countries in the world- 19th out of 149
  • The gender pay gap starts to widen from the age of 26 years old with the largest difference is at age 36 to 44 (33%)
  • Education decreases the gap but does not eliminate it- women with degrees will start off earning 5% less than their male colleagues
  • Women without a matric are most vulnerable to pay discrimination with an average pay gap of 33%
  • Men with limited education have better opportunities (construction, security, warehousing and transport) than women with limited education (hotels, supermarkets and restaurants).
  • The older women get, the larger the pay gap gets- likely due to childcare and exit from the workforce for a period where male peers can overtake them
  • The most unequal-paying occupations for women are: Nurse, Salesperson, Welder, Supervisor, Machine Operator and Waiter
  • The most equal paying occupations for women are Receptionist/ PA, Admin, Shop assistant, Data capturer
  • Male managers earn 21% more than female managers




“A key pillar for redressing pay discrimination is transparency” explains Siobhan Zurnamer, who led the research at Giraffe. “Employers can address the pay gap in a manner that generates upside for the business as well as employees.”

This report is particularly relevant for HR departments & small businesses who hire junior to medium skilled staff. Economists and policymakers interested in gender, labour force structure and wages will also benefit from the insights in this report.

Giraffe plans to use the data to promote equal pay within its platform and inform employers on the right salary to attract the best talent.


About Giraffe

Giraffe is a job board that automatically screens candidates so you don’t have to. Giraffe enables South African businesses to recruit medium-skilled staff faster and more affordably than any other recruitment method. Because Giraffe has automated the boring parts of the recruitment process– candidate sourcing and screening– business owners and recruiters can focus on more important tasks like interviewing the best candidates and managing retention. Simply post a job on Giraffe. Let Giraffe automatically screen candidates as they apply. Log in, see which candidates have passed your screening, listen to their voice notes and hire the best ones! 

To post a job on Giraffe click here

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