What is the assessment of the professional index of gender equality, which should inspire the senior index?

Carbonero Stock/Getty Images A hand turns a wooden die to change an unequal sign to an even sign between male and female symbols on a blue background.

Carbonero Stock/Getty Images

The government wants to take inspiration from the index of professional equality between men and women to create an index that measures the employment rate of seniors.

RETREATS – One index can hide another. As part of the pension reform, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced the creation on Tuesday 10 January of a “senior index” “simple and public” so that “check the rate of employed adults” in companies with more than 1,000 people, to encourage them to hire and keep employees at the end of their careers. In an interview with “Parisian », Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt has indicated that this index will be developed “relative to the gender equality model”, with reference to the index of professional equality between men and women implemented since 2019.

In January 2022, a parliamentary report submitted by the social affairs committee of the National Assembly examined this tool. And its success is underlined in several points: more and more companies publish their results, and the scores (out of 100) they get keep improving since the launch of the index.

But it is also strongly criticized by some feminist activists. “It’s interesting to see that he is being taken as a model because of his lack of excellence”discusses Sandra Lhote-Fernandes, the women’s rights advocacy manager for Oxfam France whom we contacted by phone. “He has a virtue: put the issues of wage inequality as a concrete goal for companies. But it can be greatly improved”he complained.

There is a biased standard

In the question according to activist Oxfam? “The indicators are constructed so as not to harm companies and employers. » Companies with at least 50 employees are scored based on five criteria: the pay gap between women and men, the gap in the distribution of individual raises, the gap in the distribution of promotions, the number of employees will rise when they return from childbirth. leave and parity to the ten highest earners.

Those who score below 75% in all criteria risk penalty. “But in 2022, nine out of ten companies have a good rating and no steps will be taken to correct inequities. The average is 86%”, said Sandra Lhote-Fernandes. Are they flawless? “The above index allows companies to post very good scores while wage inequality remains in France. It allows a certain ‘gender washing’. »

Oxfam published a report on the famous good cause of the five-year term (gender equality) on March 3, 2022. It mentioned the champion company of the year 2021: Air Liquide, with 99 points in 100. “But when you dig into the company’s social balance sheet, there is a gap of 2,000 euros between the average salary of men and women”Sandra Lhote-Fernandes slipped up in a previous interview for The HuffPost.

The results of the 2022 index, published on March 7, 2022, show that 2% of companies obtained the highest score (100%). But the government still notices that “98% (companies, editor’s note) efforts must still be made to promote equality between men and women”.

What about penalties?

According to Sandra Lhote-Fernandes, there are concrete examples of malfunctions in the index: “There is a 5% tolerance threshold on wage inequality. If a company is at 10%, the index automatically corrects it to 5%. This allows a company with 10% inequality to have an excellent score of 95%. » He also denounced the norm of the gap between salary increases. “It is the number of raises that are kept and not the total. A boss can raise all women by ten euros and all men by 100 euros, his company will have a score of 100%. »

In a parliamentary report last January, the government seems to be aware of this shortcoming because it plans to do so “create or include in the calculation of the existing indicator, a new indicator that makes it possible to measure the gap between the amount of salary increases granted to women and men, to measure, in addition to the rates of increase, the amounts actually paid to each other”.

Another big criticism from Sandra Lhote-Fernandes: “The heart of inequality is explained by part-time contracts. They concern women more than men because they are concentrated in more dangerous jobs. This is an aspect that is completely neglected by the index. » Types of work that also involve seniors and need to be considered in the new index that the government wants, according to him.

As for the sanctions given for, they are not, for Sandra Lhote-Fernandes, “not too restrained”. Companies with a score below 75% have three years to reach this threshold before being penalized. Those who do not publish their index also incur penalties. The government says that “Penalties of up to 1% of payroll are planned” in these two cases. Since the launch of the tool, 32 financial penalties have been taken, according to the results of the 2022 index.

Different implementation methods for the two indexes

This index therefore does not reflect the reality of wage inequality, which reaches 16% for equal work, according to Oxfam. So what about the senior index? ” It will make it possible to promote good practices and denounce bad ones”, insisted Elisabeth Borne when presenting the pension reform. But little information has been sent so far. The indicators will be determined following an interprofessional consultation”said Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt on Wednesday January 11, according to an article by The Obs.

For the economist Henri Sterdyniak, member of the association Les Économistes Atterrés, the rules of implementation of the two indexes are very different. “The issue is to promote women. There, it is to take seniors. It is easier to distinguish men from women than young workers from seniors. From what age is a senior? », she asked.

According to him, another delicate question is the difference between the companies: “You can hire people over 50 to be salespeople, which you can’t really do in the IT and construction sectors. »

This index should not only be used to measure the hiring rate and the employment rate of seniors: “It must take into account all the practices of companies, what they do to train employees from the age of 50, medical examinations, the improvement of working conditions and career development. » As a reminder, the employment rate of 60-64 year olds is 33% in France compared to 46% in the euro zone.

See also at The HuffPost:

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