Interview of BALFIN Group’s Human Resources Director, Elvin Nosi, in the framework of International Equal Pay Day.
Mr. Nosi, as the Head of Human Resources of a corporation with activities in the Balkans and beyond, what can you tell us about the gender wage gap in the region?
The gender pay gap shows the difference between the average gross salary a man receives and what a woman receives for the same job. If we refer to the salary difference between women and men in 2021 in Albania, namely 4.5%, in general it means that for every 100 lek that men are paid, women are paid 95.5 lek, or 4.5% less. This ratio has been decreasing in recent years, as it was 6.6% in 2020. This indicator becomes even more positive when we consider that the gender pay gap in the EU is 14.1% and it has only changed minimally over the last decade.
In Kosovo, the wage gap between women and men in 2021 was about 12%, while in the private sector, women’s wages were about 20% lower than men’s. In North Macedonia and Montenegro, publications from non-governmental organizations indicate a lower level of women’s wages compared to men at around 12% and 14% respectively.
Although we do not exceed the average of the European Union, the Balkan region undoubtedly still has a lot of work to do to increase inclusivity and the potential for development.
If we look into Albania as an example, according to INSTAT, financial services, wholesale and retail, and accommodation services register among the highest figures of gender gap in the average salary, respectively 16.2%, 9.1%, and 9.1%. What can you tell us about the situation at BALFIN Group, active in the abovementioned sectors?
I am pleased to confirm that in the total number of employees of the BALFIN Group, 60% of employees, 60% of recruitments and 40% of promotions are women. We have accomplished women’s presence at 40% in managerial positions. The management board is chaired by a woman and half of it consists of women.
For BALFIN Group, gender equality does not stop at the percentage of women in the workforce or at decision-making levels – otherwise we would not be able to talk about gender equality. We have accomplished some balance of the place occupied by men and women in our companies, in accordance with the industry in which they operate. For example, in the real estate development and construction industry, men make up the majority of the workforce, at around 80%. While in the companies of the retail trade sector, women occupy about 70% of the workforce, and in financial services about 76%.
The financial reward, alongside opportunities for development or career growth, is based on the principle of merit and equal opportunities. Salaries are dictated by the organizational hierarchy, taking into account qualifications and years of experience.
Today, BALFIN Group counts about 5,200 employees; it has geographical extension in 8 countries and economic activity in 7 industries. The key to our sustainability and expansion in various markets in the region and beyond lies in our employees and following the best business practices. The latter also applies to Human Resources. Our aim as an equal opportunity employer is to champion the best employment conditions for our employees and maximize their potential. This is only possible through to transparency, respect, and integrity.
Specifically, what steps does BALFIN Group take to ensure gender equality? What are the best practices you mentioned?
BALFIN Group has several mechanisms and development programs for employees, where the participation of men and women is equally encouraged and achieved. Thus, our employees, both men and women, can realize their professional aspirations thanks to our continuous investment and the provision of opportunities for promotion in various business sectors.
Earlier this year, BALFIN Group reaffirmed its commitment to take bigger and faster steps to empower women in the workplace and in the community by signing the Women’s Empowerment Principles, created by UN Women and United Nations Global Compact to evaluate company policies and practices, and identify areas for improvement.
To summarize, our philosophy is simple and effective, in all countries where we are present: we encourage the expression of different views, offer positively differentiated rewards, recognize, and promote performance, regardless of gender. Our vision is to build strong companies and create positive impact, and this approach leaves no room for gender discrimination, whether in pay or inclusion.