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“We want to continue reducing pay disparities”

With an unexplained difference in salaries of -2.2 percent between women and men, Swiss Post is doing well compared to other companies. But it wants to reduce this gap further. Head of Human Resources Valérie Schelker explains what specific action Swiss Post is taking to move towards this goal and why she has just signed the equal pay charter.

Marcel Suter

 Head of Human Resources Valérie Schelker
Head of Human Resources Valérie Schelker

Valérie Schelker, have you ever earned less than a man working in a situation comparable to your own?

No. Or at least not that I’m aware of.

You’ve been working on this topic for quite some time during your career. Why?

Equality is a major concern for me as we are role models as an enterprise affiliated with the Confederation. We don’t want discrimination at any level; we want equal opportunities for all – regardless of language, cultural background, age and gender.

Yet women at Swiss Post still earn less than men ...

We commissioned the office for occupational and socio-political studies (BASS) for the third time in 2018 to review pay equality. The results are encouraging. The disparity declined from an unexplained difference of -3.7 percent in 2016 to -2.2 percent. By contrast: the difference in the public sector in 2016 was -5.9 percent and as much as -7.7 percent in private companies.

What are the possible explanations for this difference?

One point is that women do not negotiate as well as men at the hiring stage. A study from Germany has shown that female students can expect a starting salary that is 5,300 euros lower than their male counterparts. If women start with lower salaries, general salary measures do not achieve much in raising them to the same level as men. The transparent salary system helps ensure pay equality at Swiss Post. 

What is Swiss Post doing besides that?

It’s our goal to further reduce unexplained inequality. As such, we want to make our line managers and HR managers aware of this topic as early as the hiring process but also during the professional development of women. We’ve also set up a reporting platform for employees.

What is the purpose of this reporting platform for salary inequality, which has been available since September?

Employees can report any suspected disparity in pay on the Swiss Post Courage website (www.swisspostcourage.ch) – but only once they have spoken about it with their line manager. Up until now there have been very few cases.

You signed the FDHA’s Charter on equal pay in the public sector today. What was the reason for this?

The charter is intended to send a message that we are taking our role to lead by example seriously and that we are against all forms of discrimination. Besides familiarizing employees with the topic, Swiss Post is also committed to regularly reviewing equal pay as well as providing information on the tangible results of its commitment.

written by

Marcel Suter