CEO: Andre Calantzopoulos
Operational Center: Lausanne, Switzerland


With employees from all corners of the globe, Switzerland-based Philip Morris International (PMI) is unlocking innovation and fostering gender balance through a unique equal-salary certification program.

“Equal pay awareness can significantly and genuinely support narrowing the pay gap and improving economic conditions for women in the workplace,” PMI Diversity and Inclusion Vice President Raquel Blanc said.

PMI is the world’s leading international tobacco company. With revenues of over $80 billion, the company has over 82,000 employees and 50 manufacturing facilities worldwide. It implements formalized salary certification procedures in different countries with the aim of having third-party verification and endorsement that it pays equally, regardless of gender.

The program has been successful in areas of Europe and in Japan and the company is currently embarking on a global rollout. “Our aspiration is to make this certification a worldwide recognized label for equal pay,” said PMI Diversity and Inclusion Manager Laetitia Tierny.


The principle of equal pay for men and women is enshrined in the legislation of the majority of countries. However, Blanc says, ‘There are still substantial differences in pay throughout the world. While most companies claim to pay men and women the same, it is difficult to verify and prove,” It doesn’t have much value unless endorsed by a third party independent body,” she added.

There are still substantial differences in pay throughout the world. For example, in Switzerland, the gender pay gap is 15 percent and its economic impact is estimated to be CHF 7.7 billion per year for the country. PMI is leading the way in this area by engaging in certification procedures in different countries.


External certification provides a practical solution to validate internal practices. With that in mind, PMI partnered with a Swiss non-profit Foundation called Equal Salary. The Foundation has established a certification procedure and methodology which is recognized by the Swiss Confederation, Swiss Federal Court and the European Commission. It follows the systematic approach of ISO 9000 standards (quality management systems) and is composed of a statistical analysis involving external verification of all employees’ salaries as well as a thorough audit process. The audit process is conducted by the international auditing and certifying company SGS.

In 2015, PMI was the first multinational to receive the equal-salary certification in Switzerland. Following this milestone, the company embarked on a certification procedure in Japan. This marked the first time the Equal-Salary Foundation certified a company outside of Switzerland. “We are very proud that our Japanese affiliate officially received its certification in September, especially as Japan has an estimated pay gap of 27 percent (Source: OECD). It proves that the methodology can be used in any country,” Blanc said.


The company says that the key benefits of obtaining external certification include improved corporate reputation, enhancement of employer branding and optimized talent retention and acquisition. Ultimately, it supports progress in having gender balance across the organization.

Engaging leadership, building capability around diversity and inclusion as well as fostering systemic and programmatic changes are part of PMI’s strategy to create a more diverse and inclusive organization. “This will enable us to maintain a competitive and changing environment by unlocking innovation and fostering growth,” Blanc said.