Did Equal Pay Day Pass You By?

d&i strategies gender diversity Feb 24, 2020

It’s time we stopped turning a blind eye to gender inequality. February 22nd was Equal Pay Day. Up until this day, women in Switzerland had been working for free. Men had been paid for equivalent work since 1st January. 

This needs to change. 

Switzerland now ranks 18th place in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020. This is an improvement (Switzerland ranked 20th in the last report), but there are still major differences in employment rate, equal wages, estimated income from work and holding managerial positions and political positions.

An evaluation of JobCloud and Lohncheck.ch revealed that the biggest differences in pay are among dentists and call center employees. Dental assistants earn an average of 12.4 percent less than their male work colleagues, while the difference in call centers is 11.6 percent. 

In 13 industries, including insurance companies, banks, education and mechanical engineering, the average difference is over 10 percent.

Equal Pay Day is a National day of action that aims to make the wage gap between men and more visible. If this important date passed you by, hopefully the new law will get your attention. 

The New Swiss Law On Equal Pay

“For your company to be successful - to add value, to build a strong reputation and to attract and retain top talent - it’s not enough to say you support equal pay for all. You need to prove it.” - EQUAL-SALARY

Things are moving forward from a constitutional perspective, with an amended law on Equality coming into force from July 2020. 

By 30th June 2021, private companies and public organisations with over 100 employees must have conducted their first internal analysis on salary equality. If the results reveal any unexplainable pay gaps between male and female employees, the employer is obliged to repeat the analysis every 4 years.

Employers must do 3 things to comply with the new rules:

  1. Conduct an internal analysis on pay equality by June 2021
  2. Have the internal analysis results validated by an authorised and specially trained independent body
  3. Communicate results of the analysis to employees

The Swiss government is leading by example, and has already started to conduct their own analysis internally and have it validated by an external body. We look forward to seeing the results published. 

Conducting An Internal Analysis 

The government's free LOGIB tool is accepted for the purpose of conducting an internal analysis. However the authorities also accept any other scientific method as long as it is legally compliant.

One such example is The EQUAL-SALARY methodology, which complies with the requirements set in the Swiss Law on Equality. EQUAL-SALARY certification is a practical, scientific tool that helps private and public organizations to verify and communicate they pay women and men fairly. 

Those who have undertaken EQUAL-SALARY certification receive detailed reports, including a list of individual cases where employees are being paid below 5% of their peers who are performing the same work.

They are able to work from this to assess whether there are any unexplainable cases to remedy over a period of time and/ or make required adjustments during the annual compensation review cycle. 

Currently there are approximately 110,000 EQUAL-SALARY certified employees throughout the world in 68 certified organizations, and they are actively encouraging everyone to join the equal pay movement

The Importance Of Equal Pay

Equal pay is a basic human right. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of ‘Gender Equality’ and ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’ underscore women’s empowerment as an important development objective,  and highlight the relevance of gender equality to addressing a wide range of global challenges.

Moreover, companies that focus on women’s empowerment experience greater business success. Research shows investing in women and girls can lead to increases in productivity, organizational effectiveness, return on investment and higher consumer satisfaction.

BPW Switzerland publishes a set of arguments on equal pay in German, French and Italian, which can be obtained free of charge from the BPW Switzerland office (read the German version here).

A growing number of business leaders recognize the importance of women as leaders, consumers, entrepreneurs, workers and caretakers. They are adapting their policies, programmes and initiatives to create environments where women and girls thrive.

Take Philip Morris International for example. The company embraces difference as a vital element of its business transformation and sets the conditions for this diversity to thrive. The company is committed to building a culture that expresses equality, fairness, and respect for everyone.

At Thriving Talent, we have been working with Philip Morris International since 2016. They were one of the early adopters to implement our Working Parent Programme in Switzerland (to read the full case study, click here), as they understand how enabling "caring and career" is an accelerator for gender equality. 

Melissa Whiting, Head of Inclusion & Diversity at PMI, is passionate about sharing the importance of Equal Pay and recently spoke at the D&I leaders global forum in London. To quote Melissa

"Equal pay for equal work is a foundational measure of equality. It is a critical step in recognizing the value of women’s contribution to society but it is also just one step in the climb to gender balance leadership to reflect, and benefit from, the reality of our collective talent. 

It’s a climb I’m increasingly impatient to accelerate. So it was a surprise when the audience clapped after I shared the basic facts of the certification – an independent verification that PMI pays men and women equally for equal work in more than 90 countries. I forget that even the basics like equal pay are not a fact everywhere in the world."

When BPW Switzerland launched Equal Pay Day in 2009, it fell on March 10th. In ten years, it has only moved by 17 days. Things need to change, and faster. We look forward to a time when Equal Pay Day takes place on January 1st. 

At Thriving Talent and our purpose is to to help Swiss companies to accelerate gender diversity by building inclusive cultures that empower their people to thrive in their professional and private life; leading to better business results and future-readiness.

If you would like to explore how you can create inclusive cultures which enable “caring and career” in your organisation, using a strategic and holistic approach, please email us at [email protected].

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