NAYA| "A Step Towards Equality:" Addressing the gender pay gap

Only 4.4 percent of Lebanese companies have women on their governing boards.
by Maysaa Ajjan

4 May 2019 | 21:26

  • by Maysaa Ajjan
  • Last update: 4 May 2019 | 21:26

From the event's first panel titled “Fight for Equal Pay Today!” (Photo courtesy of BLC bank).

BEIRUT: According to the Global Gender Gap Report published in 2018 by the World Economic Forum, women tend to earn 25 cents for each dollar a man makes.

Accordingly, BLC bank's We Initiative and Alumni Central organized a conference titled “A Step Towards Equality” on May 3 to address the gender pay gap.

“Women are generally paid less than men. They don’t hold as many senior positions and they aren’t promoted as fast,” Youmna Naufal, producer and host of Y Chats, said. “The gap is significant, even in countries like the US and the UK.”

The first panel, titled “Fight for Equal Pay Today!”, tackled insights from the public and private sector about Lebanon’s pay gap situation.

The panel was moderated by Lea Hakim, Co-founder and member of board of trustees at Alumni Central. Panelists included Abir Chebaro, advisor to the Prime Minister on women’s affairs and vice president of the National Commission for Lebanese Women; Randa Bahsoun, partner in the People and Organization practice at PWC; and Ayla Ziz, managing director at Unilever Levant & Iraq.

“The pay gap is only a reflection of a number of obstacles that we face,” Hakim said.

Bahsoun explained that employee progression in the private sector is driven by employee performance, so there is a huge opportunity for females who perform better to progress in the private sector and equally earn more. This privilege is not present in the public sector.

The second panel discussed the role of women in family businesses and the stereotypes they face. The two speakers were Caroline Fattal, board member at Fattal group and founder of Stand for Women, and Josiane Fahed Sreih, chairperson of the Management Studies Department and associate professor of management at the Lebanese American University.

“People assume that just because it’s a family business, then it’s handed to you with a silver spoon. That’s not true,” Fattal said.

Moderated by Rebecca Bou Chel-Macmillan, international strategic communications and reputation management advisor, the last panel was titled “Balance for Better.”

Panelists included Yasser Akkawi, founder of Capital Concept; Saad Sabrah, Lebanon country head at International Finance Corporation (IFC) at the World Bank Group; and Asmahan Zein, partner at Filovault Crypta and president of the Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB).

The speakers discussed the lack of presence of Lebanese women in managing positions. In Lebanon, they announced, only 4.4 percent of Lebanese companies have women on their governing boards.

“What we know for sure is that women-only boards will outgrow men-only boards,” Akkawi said towards the end in hope of a more balanced future.

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Welcome to “Naya,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations. Naya editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.farhat17@gmail.com

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