business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The issue of gender pay equity has been long-debated in this country, and is getting new oxygen these days because of the sexual harassment stories dominating the media.

The New York Times reports this morning that one country - not the United States - has come up with a unique approach to ensuring pay equity, regardless of gender.

“Iceland this week began putting in place a new law that requires companies and government agencies to prove they are paying men and women equally, positioning the country at the forefront of global efforts to minimize gender inequality,” the Times writes.

“The Equal Pay Standard, which was part of broader legislation that was proposed last March and passed in June, took effect on Monday. It says that companies with 25 full-time employees or more must analyze their salary structures every three years to ensure that men and women are being paid the same amount for doing the same jobs. Then they must report back to the government for certification or face penalties that include fines.”

The story notes that Iceland has had laws on the books guaranteeing pay equity since 1961 (which strikes me, by the way, as really early compared to much of the world), but that this is “the first time that the small and prosperous nation of about 340,000 has put in place specific steps to try to force companies to eliminate pay gaps.”

Iceland, in fact, tends to progressive when it comes to such issues, the Times writes: “In 2017, for the ninth year in a row, Iceland had the best overall score on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, which measures the size of the differences between men and women in health, economics, politics and education in 144 countries.

One would hope that legislation would not be needed for companies to realize that people ought to be paid the same, regardless of gender. But clearly, in many places, it isn’t enough … and some companies and people have retrogressive attitudes when it comes to things like pay equity, sexual harassment, and the like.

This is one solution to one problem. And I think it is an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: