Last week, Cecilia Burns of Leathwaite, attended a diversity and equality workplace event in Zurich titled “How can equal pay help your business?”

The event was jointly hosted by PwC and Advance, the association that aims to increase the share of women in leading positions in Switzerland.

Leathwaite recently became a partner organisation of Advance to help to promote not just pay equality, but also greater diversity and inclusion within the workplace in general.

This event was one of the first that Leathwaite has attended and it opened by highlighting the key benefits of being an equal pay employer:

  • Employee motivation increases
  • Strengthens the employers brand
  • Enhances the internal and external perception of the company culture
  • Provides transparency of communication, both internally and externally

 

However, the speakers appreciated that there were a number of challenges associated with becoming an equal pay employer, namely:

  • Consistency of pay when seeking to hire high demand/specialist talent
  • Consistent pay bands between new hires versus existing employees
  • Providing a reward structure to ensure the company retains high performing individuals
  • Varying team sizes and department budgets
  • Overall measurement framework surrounding performance, skills and contributed value individuals bring to the organisation

 

The discussion then moved onto the cultural factors that need to be in place if a company is to succeed in creating a culture of equal pay:

  • Support of senior management is essential – this must be top down and bottom up
  • Compensation and Benefits Leaders being fully aware and empowered to apply the framework
  • The removal of unconscious bias (towards part-time work, pregnancy, age and marriage etc.)
  • Improvement of existing compensation data to enable more accurate decision making
  • Addressing the (perceived) “social myth” that are people being treated unfairly when it comes to equal pay

 

The event then flowed into a Panel discussion, which included some key discussions surrounding:

  • How salary negotiation is a skill area that candidates and individuals need to allocate time to learn, in addition to far more time being spent on researching current salary and compensation trends
  • However, it was also highlighted that it’s not just candidates and individuals who need to take responsibility for equal pay; organisations have a responsibility to ensure employees are paid equally, which was raised by a PMI  Panellist
  • The impact of culture was discussed at length and how a combination of Swiss Culture, Organisational / Industry Culture all plays a role within the gender pay gap
  • Hygiene factor: organisations should have clear frameworks on salary and be transparent with base salary bandings – this was a clear action point raised by the panellists
  • The panel then closed by discussing the sensitivity that surrounds salary and how individuals are reluctant to discuss the subject, and how organisations can improve their approach and communication to ensure people feel equal within their pay

Key learnings and summary points

It was clear that organisations need to create a much more robust and transparent framework surrounding pay, by reviewing what employees are being paid per role at the baseline and then having a process to evaluate individual performance and skill, to ensure all employees are aware of why they are being rewarded a certain way.

There was clearly much more that could be done to reduce the current knowledge gap with regards to compensation, with companies being recommended to increase their internal data and external data on pay to help them accurately reward their employees. In conjunction with this point compensation needs to be reviewed regularly to ensure organisations are in line with the market, which will assist in retaining talent, reducing staff turnover and maintaining productivity levels.

A framework is necessary to ensure compensation strategies will be sustainable, even during management changes.

Overall, equal pay is an issue that needs to be addressed within all aspects of society. It not simply isolated within executive positions, it is far more reaching than this and impacts all manner of roles across a multitude of industries if awareness continues to increase, then Switzerland would theoretically be in a position to reduce it´s currently recorded 15% gender pay gap within the region.

 

To find our more about our partnership with Advance, please click here

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