Gender equality requires practical action, not just good intentions.

Nov 7, 2018
Melissa Whiting, Vice President Inclusion & Diversity at Philip Morris International
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Everyone agrees that women should be paid the same as men for the same work. Indeed, in most countries around the world equal pay between men and women is the law. So isn’t focusing on unequal pay at this stage just distracting us from addressing the significant gap between the average pay of men and women (the gender pay gap)?

I admit that was my thinking when I took on this role as Vice-President, Inclusion & Diversity at Philip Morris International (PMI) last year. Obtaining an external equal pay certification wasn’t a top priority for me because I was much more concerned with the significant under-representation of women in our senior leadership. The research overwhelmingly shows that diversity, and particularly gender balance, in management teams leads to more innovation, better decision making, problem solving and overall performance.

  1. As I researched and read about diversity & inclusion and talked to gender equality experts, I realised two things that led me to re-think the value of an independent equal-pay certification:
    Incredibly, equal pay for equal work can’t be taken for granted. Even if you only compare men and women in the same position with the same professional experience, a pay gap may still exist, often attributable to unconscious bias.
  2. To achieve the bigger goal of closing the gender gap in management, we need to match good intentions with practical, concrete actions and make sure we have the basics right.

Global EQUAL-SALARY Certification

Today, PMI is mid-way through a global EQUAL-SALARY certification process. Fourteen of our affiliates in Switzerland, Japan, Czech Republic, Argentina, Slovakia, Hungary, France, Russia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt, Mexico, Poland and Indonesia have already been awarded the EQUAL-SALARY certification and we expect dozens more to be certified over the coming months, culminating in confirmation of our global certification in early 2019.
EQUAL-SALARY certification is the trademark of a rigorous methodology developed by the not-for-profit, EQUAL-SALARY Foundation. The certification helps us verify that our pay practices match our commitment to equality and good intentions in all countries where we operate around the world.

The certification process starts with a quantitative analysis of our salary data to check there are no inexplicable pay differences between men and women for equivalent work. After this, an on-site, qualitative audit is carried out in our country affiliates by PwC, the auditors appointed by EQUAL-SALARY Foundation. The auditors talk to affiliate management to confirm their commitment to gender pay equality, hold focus groups with employees to understand their perception of that commitment, and review all HR-related policies and practices to identify potential gender blind spots, recommending actions to mitigate them as needed.

Addressing the elephant in the room

It’s true that certifying equal pay for equal work doesn’t directly address the gender gap in senior leadership. But, the qualitative audit helps to uncover potential blind spots that could hinder equal opportunities for women to advance. What’s more, just going through the audit process has generated a platform for conversations and focused management’s attention on the need to do more to progress gender balance at PMI.

As such, EQUAL-SALARY certification provides a practical building block towards our goal of making PMI a truly gender-balanced and inclusive workplace. It’s just the beginning. We aim to increase women’s representation in our overall management population to 40% by 2022. We are working towards this goal by focusing on the two biggest levers: (1) hiring equal numbers of women and men at entry levels to build a gender balanced pipeline of talent, and (2) making sure talented women are as equally likely to be promoted as talented men.

We’re not yet where we want to be, but we’re well on the way.

Melissa Whiting 

#equalpay #InsidePMI #MindTheGap #Inclusion #Diversity

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