The gender pay gap has always been a controversial subject in the fight for equal rights between men and women. The process of equalizing pay between men and women has been moving at almost a snail’s pace. Changes have only occurred when women have made a public uproar about their pay gap or when men have made benevolent moves in order to show their support.
Recently, one of the aforementioned benevolent moves came from Johan Lundgren, the current CEO of EasyJet, a budget airline company based in the UK. He announced that he would be taking a pay cut from his salary to match that of Carolyn McCall’s, his predecessor, before coming into the position. Had he not taken the pay cut, Lundgren stood to make a little over $1M a year and is instead taking a $48,000 pay cut to earn $984,000 a year.
“At EasyJet we are absolutely committed to giving equal pay and equal opportunity for women and men,” Lundgren says in a statement. “I want that to apply to everybody at EasyJet and to show my personal commitment.” From a company that was revealed to have a 52 percent gender pay gap in the last year, Lundgren’s public salary cut may show itself to be a very public move of reparations.
The company has also announced its plans to somewhat balance out the inequality between their male and female pilots, raising their number of female pilots to 20 percent by 2020. “We recognize we need to do better,” the company says in their statement, “[and Lundgren’s pay cut] is a great achievement given the deep-seated view in society that being a pilot is a male job and means the airline is on track to meet our 2020 target.”
However, while Lundgren’s move to cut his salary is rooted in goodwill and support for women’s equality, it does nothing to fix the problem of the gender pay gap.
Currently, only 5 percent of the pilots at EasyJet are women, and the company has admitted that it is because of that employee ratio that there is such a large pay gap between male and female pilots. Even if other CEOs were to follow in Lundgren’s footsteps and cut their own checks, it would do nothing for the woman three floors below working just as hard as her male counterpart but still frustratingly making less.
In order to truly step forward to solve the pay gap, not only would the company need to follow through on their promise to hire more women, but they would have to close the pay gap between the male and female pilots in their company, letting both sides negotiate the same salary and take the same benefits. They would also have to institute the equality throughout their entire company, not just the pilots – from those who work the ticket counter to the baggage handlers should be able to negotiate a gender-neutral pay that is based solely on their skill set as a person, not their skill set as a man or a woman.
Gender pay equality isn’t just about men stooping down to women. It’s about raising women so that they can work at the same level as men.
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