This Airline's New CEO Took A Big Step To Promote Pay Equality

"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."

Only a few months after starting his new position as CEO of EasyJet, Johan Lundgren will be taking a pay cut. However, the reason for Lundgren's revised salary isn't his performance. Instead, the Swedish businessman now intends to earn less in order to match the salary of his female predecessor.

By reducing his own salary in an effort to promote pay equity, Lundgren is following in the steps of the BBC and actress Jessica Chastain, all of whom have taken similar action.

According to The BBC, when Lundgren began his stint as CEO of the budget airline late last year, his starting salary was £740,000 ($1.04 million). That's roughly $60,000 less than what the previous CEO, Carolyn McCall, earned when she left the company after eight years. At the time of her departure, McCall was making £706,000 (approximately $990,730.) 

For those of you doing the math, the difference between Lundgren and McCall's salaries is a gap of nearly five percent. While that may not seem like much, the inequality alone got Lundgren's attention because he couldn't, in good faith, say EasyJet was "absolutely committed" to giving equal pay and equal opportunity for women and men if it isn't even true in his own case.

"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," Lundgren said in a statement released on Jan. 29. "I also want to affirm my own commitment to address the gender imbalance in our pilot community which drives our overall gender pay gap."

As it turns out, the gender imbalance regarding pilots that Lundgren mentioned is rather startling. The Guardian reports the gender pay gap at EasyJet is 51.7 percent, making it one of the widest in the U.K. Part of the reason why the gap is so wide is because 94 percent of pilots who fly with the London-based airline are male, and they earn far more than cabin crew and other employees, who tend to be overwhelmingly female.

Though this imbalance is troubling, it's unfortunately relatively common in the aviation industry. Per the Royal Aeronautical Society, women only make up approximately three percent of the number of pilots worldwide.

Thankfully, Lundgren wants to address this issue and set a goal that at least 20 percent of EasyJet's new pilots should be female by 2020, up from 6 percent in 2015. In an effort to meet that goal, EasyJet plans to rely on its already-established Amy Johnson Initiative, which aims to encourage more women to enter the pilot profession.

Cover image via Shutterstock / Caftor

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