09 MAR 2023

Equal pay for equal work: the search for the right equation

Any self-respecting organisation or institution in Mauritius will support the basic principle of equal pay for equal work, which is a fundamental human right.

And yet, discrepancies between salaries of women and men in equal jobs linger notwithstanding efforts to wean out discrimination, remnants of years of systemic inequality. This may be partly explained by dynamics which we are aware of but cannot change, for instance, at recruitment and career promotion levels.

Who gets recruited and at what starting salary is one thing, but how two people starting with the same conditions will evolve in the organisation and over the years, will no doubt differ according to their abilities, personalities and aspirations. Nothing wrong there, you would say. I agree.

But if we analyse the data, do we see a pattern? Do we observe that most of those who end up doing better – because they’re more available, less in demand at home – and go further, are men? That those who do not apply for promotions and who are systematically rated lower in performance appraisals, tend to be women?

Does it go further? Are there other gender pay gaps that cannot be explained or are unknown to us, a result of ingrained bias?

At MCB, we have decided to investigate further. We have applied for the Equal Salary Certification assigned by the Equal Salary Foundation in Switzerland. The certification requires a deep dive into our database and remuneration process and policies by a reputable auditing firm working in partnership with the foundation. We welcome this exercise because we want to be part of the effort to correct inequalities that may have impacted some women in our organisation.

Interestingly, this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Equity. This concept recognises that equality sometimes is not enough and effort is needed to level the playing field, without which equality still negates equity.

I am immensely proud of MCB’s efforts to redress some of the lingering injustice. Applying for the Certification for Equal Pay is just one way of doing that because it allows us to look into our practices and remove unfairness - if they exist. Only then, can we actively provide everyone, especially women, with a level playing field.

It is a long and arduous road, and it will not be an easy ride. I hope that MCB’s commitment to gender equality will be among the key achievements that future generations will proudly celebrate.

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