How far are you willing to go to bridge the gender pay gap? One male CEO is staking more than just his reputation to show his commitment to the cause and has announced that he is taking a dramatic pay cut so that it matches his female predecessor.
“At easyJet we are absolutely committed to giving equal pay and equal opportunity for women and men,” new easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said in a statement to The Guardian. “I want that to apply to everybody at easyJet and to show my personal commitment I have asked the board to reduce my pay to match that of Carolyn’s when she was at easyJet.”
A commitment to ‘equal pay’
Lundgren, who joined the U.K. budget airline in December, will have his annual salary cut by £34,000 ($48,000) down to £706,000 ($994,000) — the amount his female predecessor, Carolyn McCall, made in her final year according to easyJet.
The announcement follows news that male employees were making about 52% more than female employees at the carrier. In the U.K., employers with more than 250 employees are required to disclose their payrolls to the government by April. Out of the 704 employers who had shared pay figures so far, easyJet had the third-largest mean gender pay gap. The airline said the pay imbalance was caused by the fact that higher-paid pilots were 94% male and that it had committed to making women 20% of new pilots hired by 2020.
As the top executive in the company, and figurehead of company’s values, his actions have outsized impact. A new male CEO being offered 5% more money than what a female CEO made during her eight-year tenure does not signal promising company values around pay equity, but by having its new CEO take a pay cut, easyJet is signaling that it has heard the criticism and it is ready to change.
Other male employees taking a cut for equal pay
This is the not the first time an employee has agreed to take a pay cut after learning about unequal salaries. In January, the BBC, U.K’s publicly funded broadcaster, announced that six of its male presenters had agreed to take pay cuts after a review found wide salary disparities between male and female on-air talent.
The decision to cut male employees’ pay followed public outcry around Carrie Gracie, BBC’s China editor, quitting her role over being paid less than her male peers. Gracie said that when she raised the issue of unequal pay to her bosses, the BBC offered her a raise that was still less than what her male colleagues made.
“I was not interested in more money,” Gracie told the BBC in an interview after her resignation. “I was interested in equality.”