One-Time Pay Bounce Promised by UPM to Correct Gender Gap

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UPM-Kymmene Oyj, a Finnish pulp and packaging company, has promised to correct any pay discrepancies tied to gender.

The decision follows the discovery that some women at the company are paid less than men for reasons that appear to be unrelated to performance. The gender gap in pay will be reviewed this year, UPM said on Friday, adding that salaries and wages at the company are “mostly equal.”

“Women are a priority now” because most of the cases probably concern them, Riitta Savonlahti, head of human resources, said by phone. “But we will look at the men as well.”

Gender and a lower starting salary are often identified as causes for the gap, and “it’s difficult to catch up, even if a person receives normal salary increases during their career,” she said.

The European Commission is working on legislation that would see companies in the region facing fines if they don’t provide adequate justification for discrepancies in pay between men and women. On average, women are paid 14.1% less than men across the 27-nation bloc. The U.K. already requires companies with at least 250 employees to disclose pay gaps between men and women.

UPM plans to monitor pay equity annually and fix discrepancies when they emerge. It’s also keeping an eye on female representation among its 18,000 employees and how women’s careers progress, acknowledging both factors impact pay equity.

The review this year will assess a “statistically significant” pay gap that affects “a small minority of women” despite factoring for a person’s performance, work experience, job grade or job location, Savonlahti said. It starts with salaried employees and will be extended to production staff later.

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