It’s been a while since we’ve discussed ESG issues. Most of the attention has been focused on environmental policies, while I believe the “S,” which stands for the social impact, may be even more important as we move forward. In particular, the impact of employers on employees. And there are several reasons for that.
If we look at legislation, it’s important to mention the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which will come into force in January 2024. The European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) are part of an EU-wide commitment to gender equality and equal treatment and opportunities for all. The CSRD states that “sustainability reporting standards addressing gender equality and equal pay for work of equal value should, inter alia, specify information to be reported on the gender pay gap, taking into account other relevant EU legislation.”
With respect to reporting on pay data, ESRS Standard 1 requires organizations to disclose: “The percentage pay gap between women and men and the ratio of the compensation of its highest paid individual to the median compensation of its employees.”
ESRS Standard 2 requires employers to explain their approach to identifying and managing any impact on areas such as “equal treatment and opportunity for all (for example, gender equality and equal pay for work of equal value ….)”.
Are employers ready to respond to these regulations? Some of them did not wait for the new regulations to come into force, but started to change their corporate culture much earlier. Philip Morris International (PMI) has clearly set itself apart by prioritizing the needs and well-being of its employees and putting equality at the heart of everything it does.
The art of questioning
Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach to employees is inadequate, PMI follows a “needs-based” approach. This means that employee programs are designed based on the feedback and opinions of employees to ensure they meet their diverse needs. PMI listens to its employees through internal research, surveys and by monitoring current trends, including those related to demographics. This proactive approach allows the company to take the pulse of its workforce and make informed decisions about its policies and programs.
This ability to listen to the needs of employees and create programs that are grounded in reality, often in the local context, is a key to success and a starting point for designing effective solutions for employees.
Comprehensive and multidimensional approach
For PMI, employee programs are not just a perk; they are a strategic component of the company’s overall vision and goals. The foundation of PMI’s benefits strategy is to build equality in the workplace, support parents, promote equal parenting and foster intergenerational dialogue. By aligning benefits with core values and goals, PMI ensures that its employees experience a workplace that reflects their values.
PMI takes pride in several key employee programs, with the Happy Parents initiative at the forefront. This program addresses the work-life balance directive and labor law changes. It challenges traditional gender roles and supports equal parenting. PMI has introduced a subsidy for fathers taking parental leave, which boosts their salary to 100% during nine weeks of leave (which is a non-transferable part of parental leave for fathers in line with the work-life balance directive).
“We introduced this in Poland with reference to the standard adopted by the company worldwide. That is why we decided to subsidize 100% of the salary instead of introducing fully paid paternity leave for fathers. This is certainly a unique solution on the Polish market. We introduced this global solution with the overall goal in mind: to ensure equal opportunities for women in the labor market and for men in childcare,” said Ewa Sobiech, Manager People Engagement, Inclusion & Diversity, Philip Morris International.
In addition to the solutions described above, PMI offers a special “First Month” package for employees returning from maternity or parental leave. This is a rarely used solution on the Polish market. During the first month back to work after parental or maternity leave, a parent can work part-time while retaining full pay.
PMI’s activities also include an internal education campaign on parental rights and the benefits of shared leave. The company has launched an intranet site where employees can find important legal information, parental leave forms and applications, and educational materials about the benefits of shared parental leave for women, men and children.
Importantly, PMI has also prepared its managers for the changes. Their role is crucial because they are the first to know about pregnancy and leave. Managers were introduced to the program before it was launched. Together with them, the HR department has developed tools to help them organize their workload during the absence of new fathers.
Equal Pay Certification
PMI’s commitment to gender equality is further demonstrated by being the first company in Poland to receive the Equal Pay Certificate from the Swiss Equal Salary Foundation. This certification ensures that PMI pays its employees the same for the same work, regardless of gender. The company has successfully maintained its commitment through recertification, setting an example for others to follow.
Promoting gender balance
PMI’s commitment to gender balance is reflected in its global target of at least 40% female participation in management positions, a target already exceeded on the Polish market. The company continues to set ambitious targets, aiming for 35% women in senior management positions by 2025. PMI recognizes that diversity is a key element in its transformation process, driving continuous improvement in gender representation.
As the demographic landscape evolves, PMI recognizes the increasing representation of four generations in the workforce. The company was the first in Poland to receive the “Employer of Dialogue of Generations” certificate. By effectively harnessing the potential of different generations, PMI ensures a diverse and inclusive workplace that fosters innovation, employee engagement and a positive reputation.
“Being an Employer of the Dialogue of Generations is a great honor for us, but it also commits us to continue working to build the culture of a multigenerational organization that facilitates collaboration and sharing of experiences across generations. We hope that activities with the National Institute of the Silver Economy, regular review of processes and implementation of new solutions will allow us to maintain the status of a place friendly to cooperation between people of different generations. As an employer that employs approximately 7,000 people in Poland, we see this as a great opportunity and hope that other companies will also join this initiative,” said Karolina Gębura-Nowak, Director of the Human Capital and Organizational Culture Department for Poland and the Baltic States.