Final Conference of the Equality Platform and Standard Project highlights progress and challenges of gender equality in the labour market

Pdp1 Final Conf Conteudo (1)

On 14 November 2023, the date marking National Equal Pay Day in Portugal, the final conference of the Equality Platform and Standard project, promoted by the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment - CITE, was held at the ISCTE Grand Auditorium in Lisbon. 

In her welcome speech, the President of CITE stressed the need to continue working to promote equality between women and men in the labour market, with particular emphasis on the importance of strengthening policies, strategies and measures to combat persistent pay inequalities between women and men, as well as providing tools to guide employers in promoting equal pay in their workplaces.

The opening session was attended by Maria Mineiro, Head National Focal Point EEA Grants, Karina Asbjornsen, Deputy Head of Mission of the Royal Embassy of Norway in Portugal, Joana Marteleira, Coordinator of the EEAGrants_CIG Team, and Isabel Almeida Rodrigues, Secretary of State for Equality and Migration. The session emphasised the importance of the EEA Grants in supporting the issues of gender equality and reconciling work, family and personal life, which are national political priorities, allowing innovative projects to be carried out. The importance of the Equality Platform and Standard project in the development of instruments to facilitate the promotion of equality between women and men in the labour market was also mentioned, thus fulfilling public policy measures.

Panel I, dedicated to the progress and challenges of gender equality in the labour market, featured Valentina Patrini, Social Policy Analyst at the OECD, and Sara Falcão Casaca, Researcher at SOCIUS/CSG and Professor at ISEG, University of Lisbon.

Valentina Patrini emphasised the need to strengthen gender mainstreaming in all policy areas in order to tackle the persistent disparities between men and women in all spheres of public and social life. Although women have made significant gains in labour force participation and career progression over recent decades, they continue to perform worse than men on many labour market indicators, and across the OECD progress has been threatened by recent crises, with projections pointing to much slower progress by 2060. She mentioned that in the 2013 OECD Gender Recommendation report, gender pay gap is identified as one of the most urgent priority for gender equality. Therefore, many governments now see pay transparency as a new tool to try to close the gender pay gap, as it reveals the gender pay gap, helps to hold employers accountable, provides workers with information that allows them to turn to the legal system and raises public awareness of the existence, causes and consequences of the gender pay gap.

Sara Falcão Casaca presented a significant set of data on the labour participation of women and men in Portugal, making some comparisons with the EU27. A range of information on the gender pay gap (hourly) in Portugal was also presented and analysed, as well as data on the decomposition of the GPG using the Blinder-Oaxaca Method which shows that the unexplained component of the GPG corresponds to around 70% of the gap, i.e. the unexplained portion of the pay gap in favour of women suggests the possibility of gender bias in wage determination. - i.e. in the processes of evaluating job components and the respective value of work. The social and economic benefits of eliminating the GPG were discussed, with the presentation of the results of the study "The Social and Economic Benefits of Eliminating the GPG".

In Panel II, dedicated to policies to promote equality between women and men, Rute Guerra, deputy director-general of the GEP/MTSSS, the project's partner, emphasised the role of public policies in the progress made in terms of equality between men and women in Portugal in recent decades. She said that for these policies to be successful in promoting gender equality, it is essential to monitor the implementation and progress of policy measures in an integrated manner, which requires structural, systematic and cross-cutting approaches, associated with robust monitoring mechanisms, necessary to generate information and knowledge, analytical and critical capacity in evaluating measures and creating a culture of accountability.

The round table with the social partners, moderated by Albertina Jordão, from the ILO - Lisbon, discussed the role that the different social partners can play in promoting equality between women and men at work.

The project's main products were presented:

Kelly Soyan, from INETUM, presented the EQUAL@WORK digital platform, which brings together measures, targets and indicators relating to the programmatic and legal instruments of the strategic intervention areas defined in the Agenda for Equality in the Labour Market and in Enterprises. This innovative, dynamic and flexible tool provides objective and up-to-date information on policies for equality between women and men at work and their implementation, supporting decision-making in this area.

The EQUAL@WORK Platform has a Public Area accessible to everyone and a Reserved Area which can be accessed by people outside the public administration through authentication.

Carla Tavares, in her capacity as Chair of CT216 - Technical Committee for Equal Pay for Women and Men, and Suzete Sim-Sim, Director of IPQ's Standardisation Operational Management Unit, presented Portuguese Standard NP 4588:2023 Equal pay management system for women and men - Requirements and guidelines and DNP TR 4589: 2023 Best practices, applicable legislation, jurisprudence, opinions, studies and reports supporting NP 4588, instruments that fulfil the public policy measure set out in the Action Plan for Equality between Women and Men (PAIMH) 2018-2021, included in the National Strategy for Equality and Non-Discrimination 2018-2030 - Portugal + Igual (ENIND) (Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 61/2018, of 21 May).

NP 4588:2023 defines the requirements necessary for an organisation to implement, maintain and manage a management system for equal pay for women and men, helping to eliminate discrimination based on sex and promote equal pay for women and men in the context of paid employment. It applies to organisations of all types, size, complexity and legal nature, covering all hierarchical levels, areas of activity, organisational units, locations and forms of subordinated work. NP 4588:2023 can be used for certification purposes or simply as a reference for implementing a management system for equal pay for women and men.

The speeches by the partners from the donor countries, the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud - LDO from Norway and the Directorate of Equality from Iceland, gave us examples of policy measures and instruments for promoting equality between women and men at work.

The presentation by Ann-Helen Hopland, from the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud - LDO, centred on the duty of companies to promote equality between women and men and to report on their situation regarding equality and non-discrimination, and the role of the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud in monitoring this duty of companies (Activity Reporting Duty).

The presentation by Katrín Rikardsdottir, Director of the Directorate of Equality, on the Icelandic Standard ÍST 85:2012 Equal wage management system - Requirements and guidance, began with a brief introduction to the history of equality between men and women in Iceland, to clarify the reasons that led the Icelandic Parliament to pass legislation on certifying equal pay.

She systematised a number of relevant aspects relating to the process of producing and implementing the Icelandic Standard, namely the transition from voluntary adoption to legal obligation, and mentioned that although there is no comprehensive impact assessment, the application of the Standard has demonstrated many benefits.

Finally, the role of the Directorate of Equality in following up and monitoring certification by ÍST 85:2012 was mentioned, as provided for in Law 150/2020 - Equal Status and Equal Rights Irrespective of Gender.

The conference was closed by Miguel Fontes, Secretary of State for Labour.

The conference was attended by representatives of all the project's partner organisations - the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment - CITE, the promoter; the Portuguese Quality Institute - IPQ and the Strategy and Planning Office of the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security - GEP/MTSSS, the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud - LDO, of Norway, and the Directorate of Equality (Jafnrettisstofa), of Iceland - as well as the Centre for Studies for Social Intervention - CESIS, the entity providing specialised technical advice to the project, and INETUM, the company that developed the EQUAL@WORK Digital Platform.