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Category winner: Nora Lang: Pay Equity at FTS

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This case won the Outstanding Compact Case Competition category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2021. #CaseAwards2021

In conversation with... Matthew Sooy, Lauren Iuliani and W Spencer Ashby

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic we were sadly unable to visit Matthew, Lauren and Spencer to present their awards in person.

However, they joined our Director, Richard McCracken, from Canada to discuss their winning case.

The full conversation can be watched on the right, or each section can be viewed separately below:

The case

The protagonist

Nora Lang, a newly hired consulting analyst at Financial Technology Services (FTS).


Nora was a recent graduate of Ivey Business School’s honours business administration (HBA) programme.

Within two months of receiving her diploma, FTS was suitably impressed enough to offer Nora a position in the financial consulting sector.

Equal payWhy?

Nora was in shock after a long first day of training.

Speaking with a fellow new starter at the beginning of the day, Nora was surprised to discover that her male colleague was offered a $5,000 per year higher salary.

Nora began to worry after the HR representative emphasised in the first training presentation that discussing salary with colleagues was strictly forbidden at FTS.

Nora didn’t want to raise concerns and undermine the start of her career, but things changed once she found out over dinner that other female colleagues confirmed they were being paid a lower salary, too.

Where?Toronto skyline

Nora’s training was to take a month at FTS’ UK headquarters in London, but she would then return to her native Ontario, Canada and work in the Toronto office.


It was August 2018 when Nora started her training at FTS.

Key quote

“It became clear that the pay discrepancies were not between graduates of different schools but rather between female and male associates.” - excerpt from the case.

What next?

Nora was overwhelmed as she returned to her room at the end of the day.

She wondered whether she should talk to management about her salary: if so, who would she reach out to?

Was fair pay too much to ask? Nora wanted to act, and from what she understood, it was illegal to pay women less than men for the same work – wasn’t it? 

Judges viewpoint

This competition was judged by Ashraf Sheta, American University in Cairo; Joanne Lawrence, Hult International Business School; Richard McCracken, The Case Centre; and Sanjib Dutta, ICMR India.

Competition judges

“The case was interesting and did a good job of explaining the dilemma: I could really feel empathy with the protagonist as she agonised over what to do.”

“The case brings out a very relevant issue in today's management world: gender-based pay inequity. This is a global phenomenon and I am glad to see the authors write a case on this subject. There's a lot of awareness required on this issue and cases like this can go a long way in raising its visibility. I also liked the way the authors elaborated on the teaching plan with a suggested teaching approach for each assignment question. This will help the case instructor to bring in various perspectives while the students discuss the case. Overall, it’s an excellent case to take to the classroom and let the future managers/HR managers deliberate on the issues and come to a logical conclusion.”

“This is a topical and important scenario, features a good protagonist, and the case is likely to engage students with widely differing experiences, attitudes and opinions in the classroom.”

The authors


Matthew Sooy, Lauren Iuliani and W Spencer Ashby

A first Case Award for the trio means it’s Ivey Business School’s sixth award in their history (2012, 2014, 2016, 2019 and two in 2021).

Preparing young leaders

Matthew said: “It is very rewarding to be recognised in such an outstanding competition, among so many excellent cases. We hope that it will raise the profile of both the case and the challenging but important issue of pay discrimination. Ultimately, we hope that our case will better prepare our young leaders for addressing this and other difficult situations.”

Short case

Matthew continued: “The case addresses an important organisational issue that lies at an intersection of several topics. It is important, challenging, and something we can all identify with. More pragmatically, we kept the case short, but offered a thoughtful teaching note. For this issue (pay discrimination), the task is less about understanding what the challenge is and more about navigating it – when faced with structural injustice, how should we act?” 

Sensitive issue

Man with stairs to climb, woman with a slippery hillHe commented: “The issue is very sensitive, relating to first-hand experience at an organisation one of the case writers was actively working in. Even though important details were anonymised, it still required a great deal of courage on the co-author’s part – both when navigating the pay discrimination and then also when writing it into a case for others.”

Take your time

He concluded: “Don’t rush the writing. Make sure you seek feedback from a few experienced teachers and resist the temptation to hurry submission. Even for this relatively short case, we worked through numerous revisions. The teachers who use your case(s) will greatly appreciate a case that is logically complete, free from minor errors, and with little ‘board risk’ (the risk of being caught unprepared in front of your class).”

About the authors

Matthew Sooy is Assistant Professor, Managerial Accounting and Control at Ivey Business School.
e msooy@ivey.ca

Lauren Iuliani is an MBA student at Ivey Business School.
e Iuliani.mba2021@ivey.ca

W. Spencer Ashby is a medical student at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and a graduate of the HBA Program at Ivey Business School.
e sashby.hba2019@ivey.ca

Interested in finding out more?

Download the case and teaching note

Educators can login to view a free educator preview copy of this case and its teaching note.

Nora Lang: Pay Equity at FTS
Ref 9B20C030

Teaching note
Ref 8B20C030


View all the 2021 winners