Sircle - Gender Equality Certification: various opportunities for companies

Obtaining the Gender Equality Certification results in many various advantages and opportunities for companies, as growth in human capital, social security contribution exemption and rewarding and benefit in participation in public tenders

Rita Santaniello (Avvocato, Director Sircle – Partner Rödl & Partner), Anna-Maria Desiderà (Avvocato, Associate Partner Rödl & Partner), Rebecca Salat (Avvocato, Associate Rödl & Partner), Alice De Martin (Avvocato, Associate Rödl & Partner), 19 Ott 2022 - 10:05

The Gender Equality Certification was provided for the first time in Mission 5, -Cohesion and Inclusion, Labor Policies- of the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience (in Italian “PNRR”) to incentivize companies to adopt measures to reduce gender gaps in all the most critical areas: wages and career prospects and differences, parenting/family care, etc.

The certification itself was introduced by art. 4 of Law no. 162/2021, amending the Code of Equal Opportunities between men and women (Lgs.D. 198/2006). On 16 March 2022, the parameters by which to obtain the certification were published in form of the reference practice Uni/PdR 125:2022, later formalized with the publication of the relevant D.P.C.M. of 29 April 2022 in the Official Gazette of 1 July 2022.

Obtaining the Gender Equality Certification requires the adoption and pursuit of a management system that aims to promote and incentivize diversity and equal opportunity in the workplace by measuring its progress and results through key performance indicators of 6 identified areas (culture/strategy, governance, HR processes, opportunities for growth/inclusion of women in business, compensation equity by gender and support for parents/work-life balance) described in the guide lines of the Uni/PdR 125:2022.

For companies, the advantages in receiving the certification are many, for example growth in human capital, and a higher reputation and attractiveness for (future) employees. But not only: various benefits have been introduced by law in order to incentivize companies to obtain the certification.

First of all, art. 5 of Law no. 162/2021 provided for the year 2022 a social security contribution exemption for employers -who are in possession of the Gender Equality Certification- to an extent not exceeding 1% of all the contributions due and up to a maximum of EUR 50.000,00 per year per company.

Secondly, the same art. 5 prescribed to the contracting stations, which receive national and regional European funds, to include in the notices and invitations for the purpose of granting state aid, criteria valid both as necessary requirements and as additional bonus requirements of the offer, aimed at promoting and supporting, among other things, gender equality and the recruitment of young people and women.

It should be noted that these new provisions are only the last piece along a path that our legislator, ahead of the rest of Europe, had undertaken, in relation to gender equality in the workplace, about 10 years ago: the so-called Golfo Mosca Law (Law no. 120/2011) had in fact introduced the obligation to fill 30% of independent seats for women in the Boards of Directors and boards of statutory auditors of listed companies and investee companies (now also in the Corporate Governance Code for Listed Companies, in force since February 2021).

Recently, the Legislator's favor for gender equality has also entered the public procurement: art. 34 of Law Decree 36/2022 (“Ulteriori misure urgenti per l'attuazione del PNRR”) has introduced important amendments to the Code of Public Contracts (Lgs. D. 50/2016) with measures aimed at increasing the use of award criteria for economic operators in possession of the Gender Equality Certification.

In fact, on the one hand, a 30% reduction of the performance bond required for participation in public tenders has been established for economic operators in possession of the certification (Art. 93, par. 7, Lgs.D. 50/2016, amended by Art. 34, 1, D.L. 36/2022).

On the other hand, it is foreseen that contracting authorities assign a higher score for the evaluation of a tender for goods, works or services to economic operators that demonstrate that they have adopted policies aimed at achieving gender equality, proven by the possession of the aforementioned certification (Art. 95, par. 13, Lgs.D. 50/2016, amended by Art. 34, 2, D.L. 36/2022).

In sum, the path towards full and real gender equality, although virtuously undertaken, still has many stages to go.

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