In many jurisdictions, just because the law prohibits pay discrimination does not magically make it disappear.
In Iceland, where the concept of gender equity is widely accepted, pay inequity persists despite being illegal. As the Guardian notes:
‘“It has been illegal for decades, for jobs that are worth the same, to pay people differently because of gender, but still it happens – it’s simply been allowed,” says Valdimarsdóttir, who is now the chair of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association.’
To correct the persistent inequity Iceland will become the first jurisdiction in the world to legally enforce equal pay.
Within four years from January 2018, any public or private body in Iceland employing more than 25 people that has not been independently certified as paying equal wages for work of equal value will face daily fines.
The Iceland experience seems to suggest that the durability of systemic discrimination means that it doesn’t simply evaporate over time but rather can be corrected only by specific active intervention.
Photo by Luke Stackpoole