When an employee elects to work for a public sector employer, the individual should be prepared for public scrutiny of their salary. A sunshine list is something that the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador should embrace, and self-publish each year. Transparency encourages accountability, and taxpayers have a right to know how the public purse is spent.
Payroll costs make up a significant portion of the operating expenses of an organization so it is very important that public sector pay be transparent. If an employee is opposed to this, then the individual should go work in the private sector where salary data is not open to “freedom of information access requests”.
In 1990, Ontario introduced Pay Equity legislation to make it mandatory that employers provide equal pay to both genders for equal work. It also established the Pay Equity Commission that is responsible for advocating for pay equity in the workplace, and enforcing employers to comply. Best practice tools and case studies are provided by the Pay Equity Commission to support employers in measuring pay equity and increasing pay equity in the workplace.
As a result of the Telegram’s reporter, James McLeod, publishing the individual names of those making $100K or more in Newfoundland & Labrador’s Sunshine List, this conversation has hit public debate. It is only because individual names were included on this list that we have visibility to the gender disparity of top earners at Nalcor. It is not acceptable that 96% of Nalcor’s top earners are men, and that only two of its top 50 earners are women.
Memorial University has one of the highest female enrollment rates of engineers across the country; in 2013, first-year enrollments were 29% female students in engineering. According to Catalyst research, men are two to three times more likely to be in a senior management position than women, with women holding 35.5% of all management positions and 33.3% of all senior management positions. So, by this benchmark alone, this shows a major gender gap at Nalcor.
Nalcor’s management team has certainly failed to prioritize gender equity at the senior leadership level despite having a diversity committee for a number of years. It is reasonable to ask if pay equity exists at Nalcor for positions at a comparable job level.
Pay equity is something that all employers should self-audit. Pay equity can be tracked by performing job evaluation to assign points to positions based on compensable factors such as education, level of experience, work conditions, and other responsibilities. Yes, there are certain job classes that are more female or male-dominated, and these are the positions that specifically should be compared at an equal job level.
Employers need to regularly assess pay equity to compare positions at the same job level based on a systematic job evaluation to ensure equal pay for equal work for all diversity groups. A pay equity plan can be created as needed.
Diverse workplaces are more creative and make better decisions overall. It is worth asking whether the taxpayers of Newfoundland & Labrador would be burdened by an over-budget and overdue Muskrat Falls Project with $3 billion dollars of cost overruns if more females were included on Nalcor’s senior management team. Would the Muskrat Falls Project have been planned and executed in the same way if there was greater diversity at the top?
It is likely that diversity would have encouraged more debate, and perhaps more caution would have been exercised. A Greater representation of females on the senior management team may have completely changed the decisions made, and perhaps the current state of this project. Perhaps more females on the senior management team would have resulted in less taxpayer money gambled on this mega project?
It is worth asking these questions. Diversity changes the corporate culture and outcomes for our local communities, our children, and the trajectory of the economy that we all need to work and live in.