Spain Announces Plan to Close Its Corporate Gender Pay Gap
The Spanish government has passed two decrees on gender equality at the workplace in a bid to address the country’s gender pay gap. “From today, a man and a woman can no longer receive different remuneration,” Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s Minister of Labour and Social Economy, told the press.
The new regulations will force Spanish companies with more than 50 employees to keep and disclose records of employees’ salaries by gender. Upon failure to disclose the system used to establish base salaries and other benefits for their employees, companies can face a fine of 187,000 euros (US$ 220,000). Additionally, companies are mandated to file a four-year plan with the government detailing how they intend to balance their workforce’s female-to-male worker ratio in terms of selection and hiring process, work conditions, and prevention of sexual harassment.
Companies will have six months to comply with the decrees, which according to Diaz, “bring to the surface labor inequalities and give workers the tools to eliminate them.” The transparency introduced by the disclosure of wage disparity by gender will allow employees and unions to demand wage equality from their respective company or before a court, she says. “You can’t play around with fundamental rights,” Diaz noted, adding, “[The gender pay gap] is a democratic aberration that excludes, differentiates and violates the rights of women.”
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“The message is very clear: women must be paid the same as men for doing the same jobs,” Irene Montero, Minister of Equality of Spain, told the media, adding that the government must proactively endeavor to prevent Covid19 from worsening the gender pay gap. “In this emergency situation, we know that there will be no economic recovery if we don’t end the pay gap once and for all.” And indeed, due to the ongoing pandemic, women are already facing a disproportionate number of job losses, along with an increased childcare burden, which has been linked to wage inequality for women in the past.
On average, women in Spain earn 22% less than their male peers, according to the Associated Press. But, the gender pay gap is hardly unique to Spain. In India, according to an Oxfam report, the gender pay gap is 34% — meaning women in the same position as men, with the same qualifications, earn only two-thirds of what their male peers earn.
“With many professions working to increase the number of women in their ranks, companies need to be careful not to equate gender diversity with gender equality — even with equal numbers you can have unequal treatment… Ongoing vigilance is required,” Dr. Christopher Begeny, Research Fellow in Social and Organizational Psychology at the University of Exeter, who had authored a paper on gender bias in the workplace earlier this year, had said in a statement.