Michelle Pay on fairness, equity and change in remuneration

Michelle Pay
18 September 2023

Michelle is our Senior Remuneration Lead, managing executive remunueration, equity plans, and general remuneration governance

Michelle Pay (she/her) shares her journey into remuneration and the changes she’s witnessed over the years.

On this International Equal Pay Day, we introduce you to Michelle Pay, our Senior Remuneration Lead. She manages executive remuneration, equity plans and general remuneration governance. This role is new, and part of a team led by Group Manager Remuneration and Rewards, Matt Hill, with Kunal Malik as Global Remuneration Lead.

“What I love about working in remuneration is that we all come to work to get paid, so I feel connected to everyone in the organisation from that perspective. We all have our own values, career goals and reasons we have chosen to work at IDP, and what we have in common is that we all get paid. I consider remuneration to be a really important component of the overall people experience.

“Similar to many career journeys, I stumbled into the field of remuneration. I studied psychology and was working in HR. My colleagues at the time were not overly skilled in Excel, and I was, so responsibility of coordinating the annual ‘rem’ reviews fell to me. The remuneration review process at my workplace was not well-established at the time, so I gradually became the go-to expert in this area.

“Annual remuneration reviews provide a great opportunity to assess fairness; to sit back and identify patterns. It’s an opportunity to ensure consistent, unbiased policy application. They offer an independent and objective perspective, removing individual preferences to ensure fairness in the process.

“Fairness is really important to me. Early in my remuneration career, I worked at a socially conscious bank funded by the industry. This experience made me aware of pay disparities across various job levels and roles, and the unequal opportunities for salary increases and bonuses. It really changed my perspective.

“In Australia, achieving pay equity has been an ongoing journey for most corporate organisations. There’s some great industry collaboration happening to help us find our way and drive improvements.

“At IDP, the majority of our workforce is outside of Australia, so our advantage is that we can take the maturity and learnings from the Australian landscape to other countries. This awareness and understanding enables us to help others recognise the drivers and promote equity comprehensively. While addressing the gender pay gap can be challenging, I'm proud of IDP's commitment to understanding the root causes and implementing lasting change.

“We’re a signatory to the Hesta 40:40 pledge for gender equity. But even before that, we conducted thorough pay equity audits in various countries to understand the factors behind the overall gender pay gap. Each audit led to robust action plans. Change may be slow, but it’s there, both internally and externally.

“Traditionally, men were expected to earn more to support their family, contributing to inequities. So, when we look at pay equity, we need to consider historical and systemic factors. We’re actively promoting women into leadership roles, which were previously male dominated. Our in-house development programs have supported this effort. While we haven’t been very good at sharing our progress, change is happening. I think it’s important to pause, reflect and acknowledge improvements.

“Our global People Experience function emphasises fairness and equity, elevating our talent and team members. While I may not receive direct feedback, the data and metrics show positive change, reinforced by audits and action plans.

“There’s a brilliant example from Cambodia, where they reduced the pay gap by 10% by thinking outside the box and embracing on socioeconomic initiatives and supporting women in the workplace. It’s truly remarkable!

“In my role, I analyse data beyond gender, although we haven’t officially started tracking it yet. Gender improvements will undoubtedly positively impact other intersectionalities. I see a genuine commitment to providing individuals with space and opportunities. In conversations I’ve been part of, I’ve witnessed a clear shift away from the alpha leadership style to a more caring and coaching approach. It’s making a significant difference.

“It’s important to remember that focusing solely on the bottom line may overlook the contributions of quiet achievers. recognising the value of diverse leadership styles beyond flashy dominance is crucial. Take time to listen to people.

“My favourite IDP value is ‘Caring’, because it underpins our shared vision of helping students achieve their international education goals. Education for women and girls in particular is so powerful, and we are part of that. The support and care we show for each other, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, have been truly inspiring.”

Thank you, Michelle, for the work you do and the compassion you bring to it. You inspire all of us to be fairer and more equitable in our actions and decisions.