Philip Morris takes Equal-Salary initiative

By Leon Gettler >>

PAY EQUALITY is one of the big issues bedevilling Australian businesses and companies are under pressure from unions and courts to address the issue.

Philip Morris Australia has become the first organisation in the country to achieve Equal-Salary certification, an award handed out by the independent Switzerland-based Equal-Salary Foundation.

The award to Philip Morris Australia, handed out in March, places Phillip Morris up there with organisations like PricewaterhouseCoopers Switzerland and the World Economic Forum.  

Australian Government statistics show there is an average 14.1 percent pay gap between full-time male and female workers around the country but independent analysis from the Equal-Salary Foundation revealed only a 0.9 percent difference between what female Philip Morris Australia employees are paid compared with males.

Philip Morris Australia managing director Tammy Chan said it comes down to being carefully managed.

“We started a long time ago for some obvious reasons,” Ms Chan told Talking Business. “Because of the nature of the industry, we are in tobacco, and that environment has always been very male dominated and so we became aware of the issues.

“That is, if we don’t do anything to attract and retain, particularly women, we will have a big problem.”

She said the company had to put a number of measures in place. It wasn’t a “one size fits all” approach.

She said 44 percent of the organisation was female.

She said with pay rises, it had to be carefully managed.

“When we arrange a pay increase, I don’t even get to see the gender of the person I’m looking at. It’s all about their performance. I don’t even pay attention to their last name,” Ms Chan said.

“I just look at their performance and their history and their potential.”

She said the same rule applies when it comes to hiring employees.

“We are paying attention to make sure we are hiring 50:50 for the new position and so we are interviewing enough females to make sure are not discriminating.”

She said while women were represented more in areas like culture and in external affairs, there were more men.

She said companies need to address hidden biases in their systems to address the issue.

Philip Morris is also on the way to achieving 40 percent female managers.

She said one of the key issues there is to address retention to ensure that men and women stay with the company as they go through different life stages.

The key approach there, Ms Chan said, was to be flexible because what works for some people does not work for others. 

“Flexibility means something different for different groups,” she said.

“Everyone’s motivation is different. The individual motivator is much better than a general rule of thumb.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


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