In the 'Global Gender Gap Report' released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last year, India was ranked a lowly 108 out of 144 countries on the gender equality scale.
However, Times Internet recently announced that it achieved overall gender pay equality, post an independent pay equity audit across the entire organization by Aon. The results showed that there is no gap between female and male employees with respect to pay, rewards, and promotions at the company.
The Drum spoke with Rattan Chugh, chief people officer, Times Internet to find out why is equal pay so important within organisations. He says: "Equal pay is one of the most important signifiers of equal opportunity. Every individual has the right to be treated fairly without discrimination on the grounds of one’s gender, race, religion, age or other demographic variables. That also implies individuals should be paid and rewarded equally and fairly, purely on basis of their performance and not their gender.
"Equal pay helps cultivate a truly fair, transparent and meritocratic culture at the workplace. We have observed this at Times Internet, wherein men and women are more likely to put in their best efforts, to offer a diversity in perspective, to work together and come up with some really innovative solutions. And this is because our employees know they will be rewarded equally and fairly basis their performance and nothing else."
The report by Aon further highlights that the overall gender pay gap across India is 24% today. To drive gender pay equality, Times Internet started by first reviewing its compensation practices to eliminate any existing gender bias and discrepancies.
The company switched to an online performance appraisal system, resulting in an open, fair and transparent process for all employees. It has also initiated diversity training workshops to help employees identify and eliminate conscious and unconscious gender biases.
As to why other brands and companies are so hesitant to follow the same, Chugh says: "I think most brands and companies believe in equal pay, but perhaps in the larger scheme of things this aspect doesn’t get the focus that it requires.
"It does take time and persistent effort to create an environment where equal pay happens naturally, rather than through tactical measures. Equality is important to build brand credibility especially in the eyes of millennials for whom this matter a lot. It is important if one wants to attract the best talent."
Times Internet further carries out activities on a regular basis that are branded as #Altogether. It also conducts workshops to sensitive its people on various aspects of diversity and inclusion.
As to what more the industry can do to bridge the gender gap, Chugh emphasizes: "At the core, this is linked to unconscious human biases. The need is to make people aware that their actions are driven by their biases and not intellect; and that it has a long-term impact on the performance of the organisation. This can be effectively addressed by openly and objectively talking about it."
Times Internet has shown a quick reaction to the issue and has fixed some of the short term issues but, as Chugh says, there's a lot more that the industry needs to do as one, and many are rooted deeply in cultures.