Gender equality: UNI publishes its guidelines

On March 16, 2022, UNI (Ente Italiano di Normazione)[1] published the Reference Practice (UNI/PdR 152:2022) on gender equality, outlining the requirements for Gender Equality Certification referred to in the PNRR, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.[2]

Gender equality certification

Italian Law 162/2021 introduced gender equality certification (for more information, see our previous articleThe bill on equal pay between women and men is finally law”). This document aims to certify concrete policies and measures taken by employers to reduce the gender gap affecting opportunities for growth at a company, equal pay for equal tasks, policies for managing gender differences, and maternity protection.

Starting in 2022, private companies holding gender equality certification will receive an exemption from payment of employer social security contributions.

The certification was also included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

UNI: How to reach the goal

The UNI guidelines list the practices to follow to achieve the goal of gender equality (and obtain certification) and provide specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) used to measure a company’s activities aimed at promoting and protecting equal opportunity and diversity in the workplace.

The KPIs concern the following:

The Reference Practice indicated in the document identifies the following six areas that can distinguish an inclusive organization that respects gender equality:

Six areas for employers to consider:

  • Culture and strategy that can support the development of an inclusive work environment;
  • Governance involving members of the gender with less representation in management and oversight of the organization;
  • HR processes that favor inclusion, gender equality, and integration (e.g., in evaluation processes, onboarding, terms and conditions of agreements);
  • Opportunities for growth and inclusion for women in the company, especially in terms of total percentage of women in the workforce and women playing key roles;
  • Equity in salaries;
  • Protection of parenting and work-life balance by means of policies and services.

The KPIs associated with each area (qualitative and quantitative) measure the actions taken by the company to promote gender diversity in each context—certification is obtained if the company reaches the 60% of the goal.

The indicators relating to the six areas mentioned above must be applied proportionally based on the size of the company and the number of employees.

Certification is applicable to any type of organization, whether in the private, public, or nonprofit sector, regardless of the size and nature of the business.

The guidelines do not have regulatory effectiveness but can be considered important guidance for companies seeking to obtain certification and the related tax exemption, as well as favorable conditions for public procurement.

Since increasing attention is being paid to the inclusiveness of companies, gender equality certification may make them more attractive to investors, as well as yielding benefits in terms of image, reputation, and a balanced environment.


[1] UNI is a private nonprofit association founded in 1921 and recognized by the state and the European Union that studies, develops, approves, and publishes voluntary technical standards and guidelines—informally known as “UNI standards”—in all industrial, commercial, and tertiary sectors.

[2] The document prepared by Italy to access funds of Next Generation EU (NGEU), the tool introduced by the European Union for post-pandemic Covid-19 recovery with the goal of relaunching member states’ economies.

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