par Planet Labor
Among the initiatives of the national action plan for the European year of equal opportunities, the Labour Secretary recently launched a national plan of quality label in terms of gender equality. The goal is to recognize and encourage the adoption of good practices concerning the fight against gender discrimination at work both in the public and the private sector.
“Betting on creativity and innovation in company management and their interest in developing the quality of internal relations and on the means to reap the fruits of the full evaluation of human resources”, this is how Rosa Rinaldi, under-secretary at the Department of Labour and Welfaire, defined the plan “Bollino Rosa S.O.N.O. (Stesse Opportunità, Nuove Opportunità) (pink label MONO, same opportunities, new opportunities) presented in Rome on October 12. Unions, Confindustria and local authorities joined the plan. This quality label is the first one at the national level in Italy where certification methods for companies which value equal opportunities have been tested by several regions and local authorities following the same pattern as those already introduced in other European countries such as Belgium, Germany and France. The goal is to reduce wage differences between men and women, to develop courses for women’s vocational stabilization and to adopt concrete policies to conciliate professional and private life.
Equal opportunity label. The “Bollino Rosa S.O.N.O.” will be given out by the Labour Department to public and private companies which prove that they adopted non-discriminatory practices and strategies, including the appreciation of feminine skills and equal policy regarding wages. The efficiency of the certification system will be ensured by a permanent inter-institutional network (ministries, local authorities, social partners, members of the civil society and of the company) both at the national and the local level.
The certification course. In the experimental phase which has just started, the Labour Department will choose 36 companies representing the Italian production web among the approximately 150 which said that they wanted to be involved. Companies will be certified based on the “value chain”, the evaluation process which is based on “transparency, equity and fairness” criteria, and on a system of procedures and of indicators including pay difference, the numerical balance between men and women, and feminine presence at the top of the hierarchy. In April 2008, the experimentation phase will end with an international Conference to go into detail in this tool’s goals and purposes. After evaluating the results, the system will be broadcasted, as well as the certification process, a sustainable certification system will be defined, and labels will be given.
Bonuses for the companies. Certified companies will get “endogenous” benefits linked to the adoption of an organization which favours female employees’ well-being and “exogenous” benefits linked to prices and incentives which the Labour Department intends to introduce in partnership with other organizations. Getting this label could also give rise to marketing and communication actions based on the “recognition of the social and cultural value of non-discriminatory policies on the workplace”.
Lingering unfairness. In spite of the numerous anti-discrimination laws, the condition of Italian women on the labour market – where women represent 56% of precarious workers – remains worrying. According to the last data from the public organization of scientific research on the labour market and of social policies – Isfol – the difference between men and women’s wages is of 23% in average; the gap goes from 15% for the least qualified jobs to 40% for the self employed and people with positions of responsibility.
e-europnews, November 8, 2007, No. 070917 – www.eeuropnews.com