For many, talking about their salary is a taboo. But does it have to be? Four engineers, IT professionals or natural science graduates share their pay slip and talk about something they only rarely talk to their colleagues about.
How high is your salary?
Many people become rather uncomfortable when others inquire into their paycheck. It is not a subject we like to talk about. For how does it affect your relationship if you discover that you earn a lot more than your colleague, your girlfriend, or your dad?
For others, it is just as much a question of what culture there is in the workplace. As an IDA-member, who prefers not to share their name or pay slip, told us when we asked our LinkedIn-followers to discuss their salary with us:
“I still cannot understand why salary has to be such a no-go subject. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of “robot-like discipline”, and I would prefer not to be called to account for having talked to a journalist without asking a bunch of managers for permission first."
Maybe we are heading for better times. An IDA-analysis from 2020 shows that 37 per cent of the 30-39-year-olds talk about their salary with their colleagues, while the same applies to 20 per cent of the 50-59-year-olds.
And even more people are perhaps open to discussing their salary openly. Either because it is nice to have it on the table, because it can help colleagues get better working conditions, or because you are unsure if you are getting what you deserve.
We have spoken to four IDA-members who are happy to come forward with their pay slip.
"We are open about so many other things"
- Gunvor Riber Uggerhøj, 39, Business Architect, FlexDanmark
Salary: 42,000 + 18 per cent pension
It is not something I talk to my colleagues about, but it is something I like to talk about in private. Because I find it important. It can only be in the interest of our employer that I do not know what the coworker who sits next to me earns.
Some may think that it is none of my business, and in principle it is not. You also risk making others a little embarrassed. And I would rather not put my colleagues in that situation.
It feels right when you ask. Therefore, it also amazes me that I feel this way towards my colleagues. But maybe it is because with them, I can directly compare. When I tell my teacher-employed sister-in-law what I earn, it is harder to compare.
I want to introduce pay transparency in my workplace so bad. We are open about so many other things. I might talk to a few selected colleagues about salary. But I think there is still some way to go.
"In the collegial relation, it also removes a lot of hassle"
- Mikkel Øberg, 37, Health Physicist, Dansk Dekommissionering
Salary: DKK 50,484 incl. pension
After all, I'm an engineer, so it is just a number that has two purposes. One is that I can pay my bills and hopefully a little more than that. And then it is also an expression of how much my employer values what I do.
If my colleagues who do the same thing get twice as much as me, then my boss does not value me. That is not to say that it is a competition. But it is about getting a salary that you are happy with. The employers already have all this data. So it is simply too unwise for employees not to.
At our workplace, we only talk about salary up to the annual salary negotiation. About half of us are involved in pay transparency. Then we receive a spreadsheet, on which we have got the administration to deduct salary divided into basic salary, qualification supplements and function supplements.
It gives me a piece of paper in addition to IDA's salary statistics, which provides a framework for what is realistic in my company. From a purely collegial point of view, it also removes a lot of hassle that you know what others are getting. There are no negative aspects about pay transparency.
"It can create a little unrest in the beginning"
- Patrick Villanueva, 32, System Developer, Spectra Systems
Salary: 40,000 kroner incl. pension
When I had just started and the opportunity presented itself, I asked over lunch 'what do you actually get paid?' For some you could see that it was almost taboo, but the other new employee answered briefly that he got DKK 40,000 just like me.
It is not really my view that we would get a higher salary if we had pay transparency, because I already think I have a sense of how much the others are getting. But I would like to have openness about salary. Both in my workplace, but also more generally.
It can create a little unrest in the beginning, if it turns out that I get significantly less than my colleagues. Then, of course, I would go to the management right away and ask why that is the case.
When I finished my training as a computer scientist, I was offered a contract with a salary of DKK 27,000. I did not know where the salary level was as a recent graduate, so I did not know better than just to say yes. Because that was what my parents got for working their socks off.
"I was strongly inspired by a nurse in 2017"
- Majken Seier Islin, 31, Teacher of mathematics, physics and science, Ungdomsskolen Helsingør
Salary: DKK 33,400 + 17.3 per cent pension
I talk very openly about my salary with friends and family. I have stopped doing it with colleagues as I sense that it may cause some awkwardness among some, which is certainly not the intention. I discovered this quite quickly when I entered the job market.
I was strongly inspired by the nurse who in 2017 shared a picture of her pay slip on Facebook. I just thought it was awesome that we could talk openly about it too. Especially when it comes to these enormously important functions in society.
I think we would be stronger as a society if pay was something we could talk openly about. Both in relation to each other, but also to future generations.
We must also be aware that good working conditions are more than a good salary alone. For example, as a public employee, I have a number of care days and my working hours are organised in such a way that I always have the opportunity spend my holidays with my children during their school holidays. It is hugely important to me and our family life and therefore currently has a greater value than a higher salary.