Equal Pay – who doesn’t immediately think of women? Logically, and partly rightly so. Because in the 10th richest country in Europe and 14th richest country in the world according to Statista, the average gross hourly earnings of women are still 19.9% below those of men – and that puts us at the bottom of the list in Europe – together with Estonia and Latvia.
Should companies address the issue of equal pay only because it is enforceable by law? Not at all!
Although violations can be very expensive: In September 2019, for example, a technology company settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Labor over gender- and race-based pay discrimination with a $7 million payment.
Why else put equal pay on the corporate agenda? Wherever the workforce is largely male companies could sit back, right?
But beware – Equal Pay means same wage for the same job with comparable performance – regardless of gender, age, part-time/full-time, nationality, religion, special needs.
Several reasons are driving the issue of Equal Pay onto the corporate agenda:
The global market often requires an international workforce: Supporting international customers, producing overseas, purchasing raw material all around the world are only some of the factors difficult or not at all to handle with only domestic know-how. Therefore, companies have long since stopped looking for suitable employees on their own doorstep and have started recruiting experts in and from other countries. And the temptation to pay less to employees from low-wage countries in order to save costs is not only a form of ‘wage dumping’, but also has a negative impact on the employer’s image in the long run: a vicious circle, because on social media such stories quickly ensure that no suitable employees can be found.
The shortage of skilled workers makes companies want to attract women to professions that were previously occupied almost exclusively by men. And suddenly, classic male domains must deal with the needs and characteristics of a female workforce. Even if the same salary is initially paid for the same job, the period of maternity leave, the return from maternity leave to a part-time job or the different negotiation skills in salary talks, among other things, can have a considerable influence on salary development: a reason to keep the issue of equal pay systematically on the agenda.
Gastronomie und Pflegeberufe
In Amerika haben allein im August 4,3 Millionen Menschen ihren Job gekündigt, allen voran Mitarbeiterinnen aus der Hotellerie/Gastronomie – weil sie sich angesichts der vielen offenen Stellen bei einer neuen Arbeitgeberin bessere Chancen ausrechnen – eine absolute Rekordzahl im Vergleich zu den letzten 20 Jahren.
Und Österreich berichtet einen ähnlichen Trend an offenen Stellen seit dem Sommer. Momentum hat im Oktober recherchiert, dass die Mehrheit der Unternehmen, die sich über Mangel an Köchen, Bäckern, Frisören und Kellnern beklagen, nach wie vor weder bessere Arbeitsbedingungen noch einen Lohn über dem Mindest-Kollektivvertragsgehalt anböten.
Hier geht es weniger um das Thema Equal Pay, gleicher Lohn für gleichen Job, sondern um Pay Equity, also vergleichbare Löhne für Jobs mit vergleichbarem Wert: warum sollten zum Beispiel Jobs in der Metallindustrie am Markt mehr wert sein als Jobs in der Gastronomie oder im Handel? Es wird Zeit, das Thema Arbeitsbedingungen und Gehalt im Niedriglohnsektor zu überdenken.
Hospitality and care professions
In America, 4.3 million people quit their jobs in August alone – an absolute record number compared to the last 20 years. This fluctuation was led by hospitality workers – because they thought they had a better chance with a new employer given the large number of job openings.
And Austria has reported a similar trend in job openings since summer. In October, Momentum wrote that most companies complaining about shortages of cooks, bakers, hairdressers, and waiters were still not offering either better working conditions or wages above the minimum salary according to collective agreements.
This is not so much about equal pay, same wage for the same job, but about pay equity, i.e., equal pay for work of equal value: why, for example, should jobs in the steel industry be worth more on the market than jobs in hospitality or retail? It’s time to rethink working conditions and pay in the low-wage sector.
Gen Z’s aspirations
Numerous studies, such as the one conducted by McKinsey in 2021, show that Generation Z (born 1995/1997 to 2010/2012) wants meaning in their work, acceptance of their personality, fairness at the workplace, and a sense of community.
Equal pay, i.e., same wage for same job with comparable performance, is the least that young employees expect from a good employer. Differences in treatment, promotion and pay based on gender, age, part-time/full-time, nationality, religion, special needs are no longer accepted – in general, the tolerance for “old white males only” seems very limited. According to a survey from Zenjob in May 2021, only 19% want to work for a corporation. And in the U.S., more than half of all 18–to 24-year-olds are already looking for a new job, and as many as 31% of all 25–to 34-year-olds (Generation Y).
The more diverse and colorful the corporate workforce becomes, the more important it will be for employers to include everyone respecting their differences and creating a sense of belonging in a culture of fairness, because only when everyone pulls together will the company succeed. And equal pay is only the tip of the iceberg!