Interview: “Shifting the needle on the gender pay gap is about collective action from government, employers, employees and society in general.”
The gender pay gap is a persistent issue that continues to affect women in many industries and professions. Despite years of progress and legislative efforts, women still earn less than men for doing the same job and are often passed over for promotions and career opportunities.
On Equal Pay Day, get to know Cezara Nanu, a Moldovan gender analyst and social entrepreneur who has been acknowledged for her work tackling global workplace inequalities in the United Kingdom, also being recognized in Queen's Jubilee Birthday Honours list in 2022. Ms. Nanu founded the Gapsquare company to help progressive corporations not only identify pay disparities and foster lasting pay equality, but to also arm them with the critical information needed to plan for a fair future of work. It provides employers with actionable insights into their existing pay gaps through innovative and intuitive software.
When and how did your passion for inclusion and tackling workplace inequalities start?
It all stems from my passion for women’s rights. I have worked for a trafficking prevention project in Moldova, and I was particularly interested in how the human rights agenda plays a role in preventing trafficking - with a focus on root causes. In talking to many trafficked women I could see that a lot of the root causes were stemming from poverty, violence, lack of access to education. I then did a PhD in the UK to specifically look at and understand root causes of trafficking and how human rights can address them, and my thesis was on Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings: Human Rights and Social Justice. Every time I was looking at this agenda, it kept coming back to the intersection of economic rights and work. I continue to work to advance this agenda. I have two young daughters who will enter the workforce at some point in the next 10 years and I want to make sure they are set for equality.
From your perspective, why is there a gap between genders?
The root causes of these gaps at work are multiple: stereotypes, bias, an inherited system of how we value certain jobs and organizational structures. When we talk about pay, I think it’s also important to clarify what we mean by gaps. We can be talking about equal pay, where we have to pay people equally for the same role and the same value brought to the business. Most developed countries around the world have Equal Pay legislation and gaps can be contested in Employment Tribunals. We could also be talking about the gender pay gap - a gap which compares the average man to the average women and usually highlighting issues of occupational segregation, career progression, and glass ceilings at particular grades within the organization.
Either of these gaps are unfair and are an impediment to organizations attracting and retaining top talent and building suitable organizations for the 21st century.
What can Moldova learn from the positive practices applied in the Great Britain in terms of reducing the gender pay gap?
A key learning from my point of view is how important it is to look at data in order to create more equitable and fair paying workplaces. Sometimes the gender pay gap can be quite a political and emotional issue. Some people feel threatened, others confuse the gender pay gap with equal pay. And then within this entire effort to create a common understanding we get organizationally exhausted and lose momentum on taking action. Keeping an eye on data and using it to guide action is a key in maintaining that focus, getting around the emotional and political conversations, and getting equality done.
Women often get paid less than men, even when they are doing equal work. Mostly, they don’t know because payments are secret. What wage transparency measures can employers take to ensure equal pay for equal work?
Wage transparency is here, and it’s staying. To put it simply - younger workers expect it. According to a Bankrate survey, in 2022, some 42% of Gen Z workers, ages 18-25, and about 40% of millennial employees, ages 26-41, have shared their salary information with a coworker or other professional contact. These happen in face-to-face conversations, but equally via online platforms which make it possible for employees around the world to share offers, salaries, compensation elements and much more. The most popular ones we all hear about include Glassdoor, Blind, BuiltIn, etc. In other words, secrecy around pay is on its way out the door with many developed countries prohibiting employers from not allowing employees to talk about pay. And even then, these online platforms are creating these conversations in anonymous form.
This is a conversation we should all get comfortable with.
Who has the greatest power to change things fast?
All of us collectively. Shifting the needle on the gender pay gap is about collective action from government, employers, employees and society in general. This can’t be a one-time action done by an employer, or something that is fixed through a one-off policy. Also, men should not be scared about this. Closing the gender pay gap is not about taking away from men to redistribute to women. It’s about adding value.
The gender pay gap is a significant issue in Moldova, as it is in many other countries around the world. As per the calculations of the Center Partnership for Development, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova, in 2022, women in the country earned 13.6% less than men. Women receive lower wages than men in most economic activities. In 2022, the largest differences were recorded in: IT - 42.8% and financial and insurance field - 40.9% less. The reasons for the gender pay gap in Moldova are complex and multifaceted. One contributing factor is the persistence of traditional gender roles, which often lead to women being concentrated in lower-paying industries and positions. Additionally, women are more likely to work part-time or take breaks from their careers to care for children or elderly family members, which can negatively impact their earning potential.