Georgia’s gender pay gap has started to attract the attention of the population and policymakers alike. The gap persists despite working women generally reporting better labor-market skills and personal characteristics. It has been argued that this could be the result of systematic gender-based workplace wage discrimination, resulting in unequal pay for equal work. The discussion that ensued highlights how the fight to guarantee equal pay for equal work could benefit from establishing an Equal Pay Review and Reporting Mechanism. In response, the ISET-PI team – after reviewing the best international practices – devised and tested an excel based tool that could help companies and governmental agencies identify, monitor, and fight gender discrimination in Georgia. The main quantitative result of the exercise identified that, should reporting be made mandatory, extending the obligation to companies that employ up to 50 people would make the administrative costs for companies and public administration up to twenty times higher; thus, the usefulness of the tool was found to be substantially limited when applied to smaller companies. Finally, the exercise emphasized the reluctance of companies to provide the data required, leading to the conclusion that the successful implementation of such an initiative would require the enforcing agency to have the legal authority to sanction failures to provide the necessary data.
One of the key gender inequality indicators is the gender pay gap – or gender wage gap – calculated as the average difference between the remuneration for men and women in the labor market. Its evolution is monitored worldwide, and closing this gap is considered a key step towards more inclusive and prosperous economies and societies. According to the World Economic Forum, as of 2020, no country (including the top-ranked ones) had yet achieved gender parity in wages.
In Georgia, the unadjusted hourly gender pay gap amounts to 17.7 percent of the average male hourly wage (UN Women, 2020). Moreover, when controlling for personal characteristics of men and women, the adjusted hourly gender pay gap in Georgia is estimated to be 24.8 percent (UN Women, 2020). This implies that women, on average, have better observable labor-market characteristics but are still paid less than men.
These findings prompted a core discussion within the Georgian society on the presence of unequal pay for equal work in Georgia as one of the possible reasons for the gap and how to tackle the problem. The idea of equal pay for equal work entails that individuals in the same workplace are given equal pay if they perform the same type of work. Consequently, this potential source of the pay gap can only be verified at the individual employer level. This is accomplished by calculating the unexplained gender pay gap at the organizational/employer level and validating whether, and why, these differences exist.
Given the attention the topic holds in the national discourse, ISET Policy Institute created and tested an excel tool, built in line with the international best practices and adapted to the Georgian context, to help employers and government offices identify and measure the differences in wages between men and women performing equal work. During this process, the team learned several noteworthy lessons, as summarized in this policy brief.
There is growing consensus that transparency is critical when dealing with pay inequality and, therefore, gender pay reporting should become the norm. Since 2010, several (mostly developed) countries have introduced reporting schemes to monitor gender pay gaps, promote awareness about gender equality issues throughout society (particularly among employees), and increase organizations’ accountability to address gender inequalities (Equileap, 2021).
However, the gender pay gap is a key issue for which the disclosure of information remains particularly low. Equileap’s 2021 report revealed that 85 percent of organizations worldwide did not publish information on remuneration differences between female and male workers in 2020.
Three countries, according to Equileap, lead the way in gender pay gap reporting: Spain, the UK, and Italy (Figure 1). In each of these top three countries, reporting is mandatory.
Figure 1. Percentage of organizations publishing gender pay information, per country
However, even in these countries, and, more generally, in all countries scrutinized by Equileap but Iceland, firms with 50 or fewer employees are not required to report on gender pay gaps.
The Case of Georgia
Georgian legislation clearly establishes the principle of equal pay for equal work for all employees. The requirement applies to both public and private organizations. Nevertheless, enforcement of the law remains a significant challenge.
At present, Georgia has no reporting requirements regarding employee salaries for private organizations. It has not yet designed a reporting scheme for equal pay for equal work, nor has it assigned the task of collecting this information to any governmental body.
Moreover, Labour Inspectorate representatives state that few wage discrimination cases are currently being filed in the country. The main reason behind this is that norms regarding equal pay for equal work have never been properly specified. In addition, there are no explicit criteria defining the concept of ‘equal work’. Thus, employers and employees alike do not seem to fully understand the phrase – equal pay for equal work.
The Excel Tool
After a careful review of the three tools presently utilized to calculate gender pay inequality (the Swiss Logib, the German Logib-D, and the Diagnosis of Equal Remuneration (DER) tool developed by UN Women), ISET-PI built a Georgian model as a modified version of the DER tool that is adapted to the Georgian context and includes some variables from the Swiss tool.
The tool itself is an excel file with several worksheets. The two main facets are the inputted data sheet and the results sheet. Companies may input information on their employees in the data sheet, and the findings will then be demonstrated in the results sheet. The tool first identifies people performing the same work, and classifies jobs based on their official titles, alongside managerial responsibilities and skill requirements. After individuals are grouped by job, the tool calculates the average salary within each group separately for men and women. Thereafter, the pay gap is calculated based on the average salary for the two gender groups.
With the support of the Employers’ Association, several companies of all sizes were approached to test the tool. Unfortunately, only a few agreed to participate, and just two completed the trial: one small-sized enterprise (with 50 or fewer employees) and a large-sized enterprise (with 250 or more employees).
While low participation rates have significantly limited our analysis, we still obtained several important insights which are discussed in the next subsection.
Firstly, it is important to note that companies’ willingness to share anonymized salary data was very low, even among the companies that completed the test.
Secondly, the usefulness of the tool for obtaining a comprehensive view of equal pay for equal work in small companies (with 50 or fewer employees) appeared fairly limited as few people within the same firm perform the same job.
Thirdly, we performed a simple cost assessment exercise to evaluate the compliance costs – to both companies and the government – of collecting and reporting the gender pay gap. We found that extending the data collection requirement to small companies would increase the compliance costs by up to 20 times (high-cost scenario) compared to an example where small companies are exempt. This is because there are many more small companies in Georgia (146,802), than those classified as medium or large ones (2,752 and 609, respectively).
In addition, during the implementation of the exercise, we became aware of the following:
- Under the existing legal provisions, it would be extremely difficult to introduce the EPRR in a mandatory format – no governmental agency could sanction companies for failing to comply.
- Opting for the mandatory option and sanctioning the emergence of unequal pay in certain job categories could incentivize companies to manipulate the data input. In this case, therefore, it would be ill-advised to provide the full tool to companies, as they could more easily adjust data inputting to obtain more favorable indicators through successive iterations.
Setting up an EPRR system is one way to contribute to the implementation of the equal pay for equal work principle.
Designing the Georgian Model for the Implementation of an Equal Pay Review and Reporting Methodology generated several useful insights that might prove valuable for policymakers in Georgia and other developing countries:
1) The EPRR instrument can be utilized for the analysis of gender pay gaps within companies with more than 50 employees. Within smaller companies, evaluating the gender pay gap significantly increases the costs to society, while providing rather limited additional information.
2) The decisions about whether to provide the analytical part of the tool to companies, and whether reporting should be voluntary or mandatory should be taken jointly. If the goal is to provide an instrument to the agency enforcing the equal pay for equal work principle and to facilitate appeals from workers, the tool should be made mandatory. However, in this case, companies should only provide the input data, without having access to the part of the tool that assesses pay gaps at the job level. On the other hand, if the goal of the reform is to support willing companies in their efforts to eliminate unequal pay for equal work conditions, a non-mandatory form may be preferable. In this instance, companies should have access to the full version of the tool. This would allow them to better understand the dynamics that lead to unequal pay and thus put in place internal remedial actions.
3) If the goal is to provide a tool to the agency enforcing the equal pay for equal work principle, it is crucial that any gaps in the associated legislation are closed. As such, the enforcing agency should be capable of sanctioning failures to provide the required data, and prosecuting violations of the equal pay for equal work principle.
Finally, it is important to note that testing the application of the equal pay for equal work principle at the company level through an EPRR system, while useful for identifying potential causes of the gender pay gap and the existence of gender disparities within companies, is just a first step in a longer and more complex process. Once disparities are identified, both companies and enforcing agencies should follow up with additional research and analysis to determine whether these disparities are linked to discriminatory practices, and what type of remedial options could be adopted.
- Equileap. 2021. Gender equality global report & ranking. Equileap Research Paper. Available at: https://equileap.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Equileap_Global_Report_2021.pdf
- Geostat. 2020. Business Sector in Georgia. Geostat. Available at: https://www.geostat.ge/media/35014/Krebuli-2020.pdf%20
- UN Women. 2020. Analysis of the Gender Pay Gap and Gender Inequality in the Labor Market in Georgia. Tbilisi: UN Women. Available at: https://georgia.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2020/03/analysis-of-the-gender-pay-gap-and-gender-inequality-in-the-labor-market-in-georgia
- UN Women. 2021. Assessment of the models for the implementation of the models for the implementation of the Equal Pay Review and Reporting (EPRR) methodology in Georgia. Tbilisi: UN Women. Available at: https://iset-pi.ge/en/publications/research-reports/3020-assessment-of-the-models-for-the-implementation-of-eprr-methodology-in-georgia
- WGEA. 2019. International Gender Equality Reporting Schemes. Workplace Gender Equality Agency Annual Report. Available at: https://www.wgea.gov.au/publications/international-gender-equality-reporting-schemes
- WEF. 2021. Global Gender Gap Report 2021. The World Economic Forum. Geneva, Switzerland. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/reports/ab6795a1-960c-42b2-b3d5-587eccda6023
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