In most countries, men and women doing the same work earn different amounts. This discrimination is popularly known as the gender pay gap. And despite efforts to close it, particularly amongst advanced industrial countries, it persists. Part of the problem is that policy solutions to eradicate unequal pay have focused on changing individual workers’ behavior. More often than not, women are tasked with entering male-dominated professions; or female employees are expected to more effectively assert themselves in the workplace. There may be a better way.

In 2018, Iceland introduced the first policy in the world that requires companies and institutions with more than 25 employees to prove that they pay men and women equally for a job of equal value. The policy is implemented through a job evaluation tool called the Equal Wage Management Standard, or simply, the system. If companies show they pay equally for the same positions, they receive certification. Beginning in 2020, certification became a requirement and companies without certification incur a daily fine.