The Pink Tax - what is it, and how does it hinder women?
“Men and women often buy similar day-to-day products. But research shows that consumer products targeted and advertised to women are sometimes more expensive than comparable products marketed to men. This disparity is referred to as a so-called pink tax.” - We Forum
Gender-based pricing is present across many products, but one specific area that directly affects women (with one of the biggest disparities) is personal care products, specifically products that are “for women”. Women are paying substantially more for their day-to-day products than men, which makes no sense when there’s already a gender pay gap and women are contributing more to the economy simply by existing.
For example, even something considered essential (and not a product specifically for women) such as moisturiser or deodorant is more expensive for women than it is for men. The same goes for razors.
Although these prices can vary depending on what state you’re in (US) or what country you’re in (UK and Europe) the pink tax is prevalent and still exists across a number of products. Although countries are trying to directly tackle the pink tax, it begs the question as to why it exists in the first place.
Products such as tampons or pads aren’t considered part of the pink tax and instead, fall into the bracket of “period tax”. There are only 7 countries in the world that have gotten rid of or reduced sales taxes for period items.
So, what can you do as an employer?
This may seem like a bizarre question to ask yourself, as you may be thinking “What do I, as an employer, have anything to do with the pink tax”? The biggest impact that you can make as an employer is ensuring that the women within your organisation are remunerated properly, and that means doing an audit and checking that they’re paid the same as your male counterparts.
Even when you pay your women the same as your men within your organisation, it’s essential to recognise that women will still have (in some cases) higher costs than men because of this tax. They’ll also have higher prices on things like personal care because of tampons, pads, and other feminine care products.
Equal pay is a great first step, but other things you can look at are as follows:
- Providing access to feminine care products in women’s bathrooms to support those that may have trouble accessing them (also, it’s just a nice thing to do!)
- Looking at benefits that can directly impact women and the unique struggles that they have
- Assessing pay and bonus structures to ensure fair remuneration
And finally, if you’re a company that creates products - how are you pricing them and do you have a different markup for products that women buy? Accountability is key.
The pink tax has long imposed an economic burden on women - and although globally the right steps are being made to combat this, it’s still a huge issue that should be recognised and advocated against by employers and employees within the organisations that continue to do this.