This blogpost was originally poste on the website EHL Insight.
2022 witnessed a historic breakthrough as Banker Stacey Macken, with an illustrious four-year tenure at BNP Paribas in London’s bustling financial hub, secured an astonishing £2 million victory against the renowned French bank. The landmark case unveiled deep-seated gender pay discrimination, marking a resounding call for accountability within corporate giants.
Meanwhile, echoing the finance sector’s discordant melody, the hospitality industry’s composition of leadership roles also resonates with a disconcerting gender disparity. According to the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020 Report, only 25% of leadership roles within the industry are occupied by women. This statistic highlights the urgent need for change and the importance of gender equality initiatives in the hospitality sector. To address this pressing issue, equal pay plays a crucial role. Not only does it promote fairness and equality, but it also contributes to better Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) management. In order to shed light on the importance of this cause and explore ways individuals can participate, I had the opportunity to interview Lisa Rubli, an EHL alumna and the co-director of EQUAL-SALARY, a non-profit foundation based in Vevey that advocates for equal opportunities in the workplace and her colleague Aurélien Joly.
What is EQUAL-SALARY Foundation?
Lisa Rubli: EQUAL-SALARY is a non-profit foundation based in Vevey, Switzerland. We stand for equal pay and equal opportunities in the workplace. And to do this, we have created a truly robust, scientific, and very demanding certification, in collaboration with the University of Geneva, that we can really compare to an ISO standard specific to salaries and opportunities in the corporate world. And we work with partners and internationally renowned audit firms, such as SGS, PwC, and Mazars. Today, we have over 130 certified companies worldwide in all sectors and reached about half a million of employees who are affected by this certification. For our foundation, equal pay and equal opportunity in business is truly a fundamental human right. We are doing everything we can, fighting to close this gap in the world with a practical, pragmatic and truly reliable tool.
Why should we defend equal pay?
Lisa Rubli: Equal pay and equal opportunity are fundamental rights, as I explained earlier. But this reality is not yet there. If we look at the figures from the Federal Statistical Office, they have published, therefore, a report last year, on the situation in 2020. In Switzerland, we still have a wage gap of 18%, and in this 18%, there is 45.3% which is an unexplained share. This means it is a share that cannot be justified by an objective criterion such as hierarchical position, diplomas, experience. So, this means that we have an 8.6% wage gap, solely related to gender. In monetary terms, this translates into a woman in Switzerland, who for the same job, at the same rate, still earns 717 francs less than a man and, only because she is a woman. So, for us, this is something that really needs to change. At the European level, we are 26ᵉ of the ranking. And then, according to the International Labour Organization, at the global level, this gap is around 20%. Unfortunately, the road is still long and full of pitfalls, as we know, but it’s really important to contribute to this effort and this equal treatment, which is truly fair to all.
How can we support the cause? Individual, corporate and social perspective
Aurélien Joly: Indeed, at the individual level, equal pay, it’s a bit obvious, but it confers financial independence for women which is very important and that will translate into more decision-making power in the family. It will also help to fight against the precariousness of women at the end of their career if they are paid more fairly. At the company level, this is extremely important because it is true that there are still many preconceived ideas and stereotypes about the place of women in the world of work. Indeed, equal pay, equality opportunity allows us to deconstruct these aspects and to create a climate of trust, transparency. Finally, it has a positive impact on the company’s reputation which will result in better employability and has a positive effect on talent retention and attraction.Numerous studies have indeed proven that teams in which there is wage equality, there is a greater diversity, greater equality of opportunity, reflects a better performance, better efficiency, more innovation and a better company culture.
In which part of CSR is the Foundation? And what are the challenges to reach full equality?
Aurélien Joly: In the social responsibility, the social component of pay equity is essential. To us, it is a foundation on which all other initiatives will be based CSR, development and corporate responsibility. For us, it is very important to have this social aspect in mind because finally the members of a company are part of the society and have an extremely important social facet that will affect everything else. As with environmental, social and governance criteria, or ESG, which is a bit of a counterpart to the CSR, in fact, if a company feels that equal pay or equal opportunity are parts of its DNA, they need to be able to prove it in a vigorous and factual way.
Lisa Rubli: At the EQUAL-SALARY Foundation, we work mainly on gender inequalities between men and women, but we know that there are many other factors that are determining inequality and discrimination at work. For example, ethnic identities or gender identities, to name just two. It is also important to have a vision more open, to say that there are unfortunately many things that contribute to conscious and unconscious bias, through the entire life cycle of an employee, which can be translated into obstacles. This is what is important to keep in mind, precisely, in terms of challenge. Being certified or audited requires to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, it requires the ability to be transparent. And it is often difficult to be able to to see things that we don’t want to see or know. Not all companies have the same the support of their management to take this step. There is also the challenge of “pinkwashing”. Often, we hear from companies who are doing a little bit of work to restore their image on equality and gender issues, but which in the end, in fact, is not verifiable. It’s a bit of a shame.
How can we be part of the EQUAL-SALARY Foundation?
Aurélien Joly: On the one hand, you can talk to your management, talk to your human resources department, if you want to do just that process, take the step of becoming EQUAL-SALARY certified to prove and to take a public stand for the cause. This is something that is very important if you can do it in your company.
On the other hand, you can follow us on social networks. We also publish a lot of articles on the subject. And finally, if you want to get involved in a way that individual, you can join the Foundation’s Ambassador program EQUAL-SALARY, and this program is called EQUALIZER. It is a program that allows you to join a community of like-minded people who share your values and who will help you to allows us to learn and share about the issue of equal pay and equal opportunities around the world.
Moreover, it is a program that was developed by former EHL students during their SBP project. We are very happy to have been able to do this project with them. If you want to join us, you can visit our website, equalsalary.org and click on the “EQUAL-SALARY advocacy” tab?
Register here to become an ambassador, to be part of our privileged circle of contacts who work on this cause.