EdPlaKo-MK: Gender equal pay in companies in Macedonia

Skopje, MacedoniaSkopje, Macedonia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

EdPlaKo-MK is a tool helping companies to eliminate their gender pay gap. It offers a way to measure the gap and then advises solutions for its reduction and closure. Companies committed to do so are awarded the EdPlaKo-MK logo, signifying a gender-pay responsible company.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if women were relieved of the fear they were paid less than men and this brought higher productivity, growth and improved well-being?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Macedonia faces a gender pay gap of 12.5%, which amplifies to 28.3% for the workers with primary school only. Females are being heavily discriminated on the labor market. At the country level, legal provisions exists to combat the gap, as well various bodies within government institutions to advance equal opportunities in pay. However, these have not resulted in success so far.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The project EdPlaKo-MK tries to reduce the prevalent gender pay gap, by stimulating companies to gender-balance their remuneration policies. In particular, EdPlaKo-MK is a user-friendly tool offering any company (and individual also), to test their remuneration system and measure the gender pay gap at the company level. Once the gap is identified, EdPlaKo-MK offers advises for the company to 'iron' the pay system so that gender pay gap is eliminated. The company that eliminates the gender pay gap is then awarded the EdPlaKo-MK logo, as a recognition of a gender-pay responsible company. By so doing, the overall gender pay gap at the country level will decline and ultimately vanish over the long horizons.


Japanese Award for Outstanding Research on Development (Global Development Network and the Government of Japan); First Prize for Social Innovation Award (United Nations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The tool invites a company to test its remuneration system against a gender pay discrimination. In a confidential manner, the company lists (in an excel manner) all observable characteristics of employees (their personal and job characteristics), as well their current wage. By pressing "send", the tool then estimates the size of the gender pay gap for that company. The system points out to job places where particular female employees are being underpaid compared to if they were men. In the final (optional) stage, expert advise is offered to tailor the remuneration system not to commit gender pay discrimination into the future. Presently, one company goes through the process; the testing stage has finished.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

As the first company goes through the testing process, the impact of the project on the final parameter - the difference in pay between men and women - is still to be seen. The grand idea is that many companies approach the tool, test their wage system and pursue policies to reduce and eliminate the gender pay gap at the company level. Assuming that all companies (including government institutions) will find motivation (in being awarded with the EdPlaKo-MK logo as a gender-pay responsible company) in the very long run, this will first start working to reduce the gender pay gap and to ultimately eliminate it.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1. Promotion. Active promotion of EdPlaKo-MK: direct talks with companies; promotion through videos; spreading it through the social media; speaking at round tables; speaking in the media (short statements; interviews on the topic); dissemination of leaflets at hotspots downtown. Part of these have already been launched. 2. Advocacy. Direct meeting with government officials and policymakers to ensure that the legal/policy environment is supportive to our cause. 3. Direct company meeting. Discussions with the HR dept. managers to explain the idea behind and the goal of EdPlaKo-MK.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The project required non-negligible budget for its founding. In the present stage, activities do not require large financial effort. As the project is nested within a think tank, the costs generated are covered within the general budget. However, more active promotion and convincing of companies to go for EdPlaKo-MK would require a significant effort - particular team to be dedicated to this work. A couple of applications for funding are underway

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

No project has been entered to address problem in Macedonia. No similar solution has been proposed elsewhere. Our project is complementary to the PINKBOARD project, offering online job board to match females in Latin America with flexible jobs, as a way to reduce gender pay gap. However, PINKBOARD roots the cause of the gender pay gap in the scarcity of flexible job arrangements, EdPlaKo-MK roots it in the discrimination committed at the company level in general (hence, including the insufficiency of flexible jobs).

Founding Story

We started investigating the gender wage gap since 2011. Studies and practitioners argued that the gap existed at certain level in Macedonia and not much could have been done. The proposals only included that women need higher participation in different bodies, which would by no means reduce the gap. We figured out the root of the problem are companies, not policies or the government. This was the "aha" moment leading us to create a tool to help companies to eliminate the gender pay gap, rather than recommending introduction and/or changes in policies (which is the required but not sufficient condition).


The team is led by the founder Dr. Marjan Petreski and the co-founder Dr. Blagica Petreski. Both sit the Executive board. Besides, the team comprehends Ms. Despina Tumanoska, Mr. Ivan Vchkov and Ms. Tereza Kocovska, all full-time employees. All 5 team members are economists, with proven track record in economic research and/or advocacy activities for better economic policies. Despina, Ivan and Tereza are in charge for communicating companies and helping them out with the application of EdPlaKo-MK, while Marjan and Blagica contribute to the policy debate, stir public thinking about gender wage gap, and vision-ize the entire project. It is projected that the current team composition will secure project's growth in the short run, while the medium run may require additional team members, to deal with issues of motherhood and fatherhood pay gap, and the associated changes we would like to inflict in that area.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Through Facebook ad.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder, Chief Economist (CEO)

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Gender Equality.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

My greatest previous achievement is related to a social entrepreneurship, rather. I worked directly with middle-age unemployed and hardly employable women in Krushevo, a small and remote touristic town in Macedonia, where the main employer is the local government. On the other hand, Krushevo possesses rich nature of berries, honey, teas and herbs, while these women are endowed with skills for homemade and handmade delicious food. I pioneered an association "Krushevo women" whose objective was to stir the entrepreneurial spirit of these women, by embedding skills for promotion, branding, sales, as well associating among each other and with similar initiatives globally. After a year of work, their production and sales trippled, while a couple of products have been developed in local brands, already starting being recognized by the tourists. Presently, I prepare a follow up, to embed the developed skills into specific touristic rutes, e.g. a tourist visits Krushevo, and has a chance to participate in preparation of wild-strawberry jam, and then to taste it.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

The prime group associated with this project is a couple of persons from the Advisory board of my institute. These are usually persons who sit at various boards and/or are somehow related to the policymakers; e.g. the primary contributor from this group is a university professor who is named the primary adviser to the Minister of labor. Broader than this, we cooperate with NGOs/think tanks with similar causes: we share findings, define policy recommendations, participate to events organized by them. We certainly cooperate with the policymakers, where the primary objective is to make them aware of EdPlaKo-MK and the objective it wants to achieve.