Luminița Florea, Director People & Culture at Philip Morris Romania: Equal pay for equal work can’t be taken for granted

Even if you only compare men and women in the same position with the same professional experience, a pay gap may still exist, often attributable to unconscious bias. And this should be addressed through a wealthy of initiatives before even designing any D&I initiatives among the organization.



Could you share with us some key milestones in the D&I journey of Philip Morris Romania?

Currently, Philip Morris International (PMI) is going through a process of intensive transformation worldwide - the Company is building a future on a new category of smoke-free products that, while not risk-free, are a much better choice than continuing to smoke. Change is imperative, in order to maintain a competitive position within the fast-paced environment of 21st century. Philip Morris Romania is part of this transformation since 2016. At the same time, in order to be more innovative and successful, we have to become an organization with diverse teams and an inclusive culture. It’s essential that we commit to this aspect of our transformation, and we’re tackling our gender gap first. We need a better balance of diverse, talented women and men to achieve a smoke-free world.

Even though everybody agrees that women should be paid the same as men for equal work, that is not the reality for many women in the world today. At PMI, we wanted a credible, independent verification that our actual pay practices matched our commitment to equality in all countries where we operate. This is the reason why, on 4 March 2019, PMI has become the first international company to become global EQUAL-SALARY certified, Philip Morris Romania having gone through an audit conducted by PwC in 2018, the certification being a key milestone in our D&I journey.

By seeking global EQUAL-SALARY certification by a third-party, Philip Morris is submitting itself both to a quantitative comparison of salary data and a qualitative audit of management commitment to equal pay principles and of our people policies, practices and processes to identify potential gender blind spots. This advances our efforts to achieve gender balance at PMI and is an essential ingredient for our business transformation as we strive to create a smoke-free world.

What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?

Building an inclusive culture and having a diverse workforce entails embedding capabilities, mindsets and behaviors within our leadership and learning curriculum. These include: breaking down hierarchy, making sure different voices are heard, ensuring leadership styles adapt to the needs of different employees, showing empathy and care, building psychological safety, coaching, and understanding how bias may impact decisions and the views of others.

Our second priority is to focus on the area where we can have the greatest immediate impact on our diversity: closing the gender talent gap. As outlined above, we are dedicated to ensuring equal pay and opportunities to each and every employee. Equal pay for equal work means that men and women in the same job performing equal work must receive the same pay. It influences the gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between the average income of men and women across an organization or in the labor market. If you have more men at higher levels, it creates a gap between average salaries of men and women. The gender pay gap is a talent gap. It is broader and more complex than equal pay for equal work.

In 2018, Philip Morris Romania passed the quantitative salary analysis of the certification process which involves a regression analysis of all our salary data to confirm there are no unexplainable differences between the salaries of men and women. We also submitted to the qualitative audit for all the affiliates around the world. It was necessary for us to pass all of these qualitative audits to receive the global certification. Potential gender blind spots in policies and procedures and opportunities to ensure a level playing field for women are highlighted to management to address as part of this process.

Therefore, we are working towards this goal by focusing on the two biggest levers: hiring equal numbers of women and men at entry levels to build a gender balanced pipeline of talent, and
making sure talented women are as equally likely to be promoted as talented men.

Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?

The main D&I initiative we are working on to improve our gender balance is through the global EQUAL-SALARY certification process. In additional to confirming that we pay men and women equally for equal work, the certification process nudges management and employees to keep the importance of continuing to work toward improving gender balance top of mind. The qualitative part of the audit helps to identify potential gender blind spots in policies and practices and how they are applied. Therefore, EQUAL-SALARY certification encompasses all the D&I initiatives developed in our organization.

Alongside our work on equal pay, we have implemented and continue to work on a range of initiatives to improve gender balance management on two main layers:

Employee Lifecycle
• Review job ads to remove gendered language.
• Monitoring balance in the number of men and women in short lists and interview panels.
• Personalized career and development plans for women leaders at PMI and recruiting top external female talent.
• Identifying and addressing gender bias in our talent assessments – whether in recruitment, performance management or opportunities for promotions.
• Tracking and publishing progress on the gender balance of our management populations because what gets measured and is visible, gets done. Today, women hold 39.8% of all management roles in Philip Morris Romania and we’re on track to meet our goal of 40% by 2022. In Romania, we have already reached this objective: 45% of the management positions are held by women.

Ongoing opportunities
• Looking for ways to celebrate our top female talent as role models for other women.
• Developing female talent through women’s networks offering opportunities for women to build valuable connections for support, learning and mentoring. Currently, we are in the process of initiating this step.
• Flexible working arrangements that enable women and men to succeed both at work and at home.
• Parental support programs to help employees achieve their ambitions of being great parents and great professionals.
• Engagement activities – Diversity Day @ The Office, where employees got in touch with D&I through experiential workshops and public forums.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by your sector in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce?

We believe the biggest challenge we are currently experiencing is the technical domain that requires technical expertise usually common between men, not women – although the gender balance on managerial level is in line with our aspirations, we still have a lot to work on when it comes to non-managerial position in the factory. This is why we are monitoring very closely the short-listed candidates and the potential areas where we can attract and retain female talent for these niched positions as well.

The second one would be the biases we are trying to address throughout our managerial roles – even though we are talking about gender biases, stereotypes or unconscious biases, we are continuously attempting to overcome any of these subconscious threats that may appear – in our performance & talent management processes or throughout the learning journeys dedicated for management positions, we are trying to tackle this on all fronts.

What business benefits do you see as a result of increasing D&I?

D&I entails a diverse workforce with special talents that we can further grow and develop in order to build a strong leadership pipeline within Philip Morris Romania. Moreover, we believe that having a global, independently-verified EQUAL-SALARY certification will boost PMI’s attractiveness as an employer of choice, and increase employee engagement and pride knowing that they work for a forward-looking, fair organization.

And that’s not all: We believe that the certification process can focus internal attention and catalyze further actions toward achieving gender balance and a more inclusive workplace at PMI. This supports our efforts to successfully transform our culture, talent management and, crucially, completely transform our business to become a smoke-free technology leader on the path to creating a smoke-free world.

Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?

First of all, equal pay for equal work can’t be taken for granted. Even if you only compare men and women in the same position with the same professional experience, a pay gap may still exist, often attributable to unconscious bias. And this should be addressed through a wealthy of initiatives before even designing any D&I initiatives among the organization.

Secondly, to achieve the bigger goal of closing the gender gap in management, we need to match good intentions with practical, concrete actions and make sure we have the basics right. Therefore, we believe that a thorough organizational health analysis is highly needed and maybe the most important thing is building a strong action plan in this sense, having the management team commitment and being able to monitor and adapt as the numbers change.

Lastly, we are all aware of the generation gap – and this means diversity, as well. Gen Zers date on equal terms, live together on equal terms, think more similarly than any previous generation. For them, shared parenting and equality is normal; it’s what they’re used to. Equal pay is already the norm for many 20-year-olds. They don’t hold the unconscious biases of their parents or antiquated ideas that to get ahead they need to pander to entrenched patriarchies or play by somebody else’s rules. They will not stand for inequality. Therefore what needs to be done is to calibrate the generations in order to create a flexible, pleasant work environment for every employee in the organization.

What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?

As a company, we see strength in diversity. We’re committed to building an inclusive, diverse workplace where talented women and men can contribute their best and support each other. By doing so and uniting behind our vision to create positive change for smokers and society, we know we can achieve a smoke-free world – and this is a common mindset for all employees in the organization. Even our organizational culture entails a desired behavior around the same point of attention, stating that we are inclusive, we champion diversity, acting with compassion and integrity in everything we do.

More than that, treating everyone with fairness, respect and equality is part of our core values at Philip Morris Romania. And, it’s also good for business: diversity of thought and skills can deliver the innovation, creativity and disruption needed to help us reach our ambitious goal. That’s why we’re focused on creating an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, use their skills, share their ideas and perspectives, and feels valued – regardless of how they look, their origins, how they speak, who they love, or their beliefs. Only by doing so can we unlock the true power of our diversity.

Any plans for the #EUDiversityMonth this May?

In 2019, we were very pleased to welcome Andreea Braga, Director of FILIA – Center for Curricular Development and Gender Studies, to an open discussion with our employees around gender equality, inclusion and equal payment. The discussion with Andreea was followed by the Diversity Day @ The Office, at our headquarters, in which we were trying to find the best ways to express different mindsets and beliefs, to laugh, as this is the best form of therapy, and to discover unity by mixing up the diversity.

In 2020, as well, we had the second edition of Diversity Day @ The Office, a virtual one, when we were able to explore the unsurmountable complexity of communication as a parent, but also as a social figure who interacts with people, on a daily basis, in different contexts.

This year, we are planning to deploy the third edition of Diversity Day @ The Virtual Office – first of all, we will have a structured written communication around #EUDiversityMonth aimed to raise awareness on the main D&I aspects – gender equality, LGBTIQ, generational equality, mental health, ethnicity & race, disability and support for parents. Then, we will organize an open forum on equal pay with an external speaker, plus a member from the management team that could share their experience (main challenges throughout their career, the main lessons learnt, together with the importance of D&I awareness). Finally, we will have three experiential workshops for them where we will tackle one aspect of D&I through an interactive session.

Interview by Dana Oancea, Romanian Diversity Charter

This interview was produced with the financial support of the European Union (project Workplace Inclusion Champion WIC). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.