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Heavy weather for pay transparency


Even though pay transparency is one of the best tools to address equal pay and discrimination issues, only one in four IDA members talk about their salary with their colleagues.

Do you talk to your colleagues about how much you earn? Or is it taboo? (File photo)

Talking about pay is taboo at many workplaces. Only one in four of IDA’s members talk to colleagues about their payslip. This is the result of a new analysis based on IDA’s salary statistics for 2018.

According to Juliane Marie Neiiendam, Chairman of the Council of Employees at IDA, many people hold their payslips close to their chests.

“Openness about pay is one way to combat the issue of discrimination and unequal pay. The culture at far too many workplaces regarding any mention of pay is shrouded in secrecy and intimidation. And we know that in many places the view prevails that your pay is confidential. In fact, some businesses deliberately break the Act on Equal Pay and write into employment contracts fabricated and illegal confidentiality clauses about pay. But it is, and always will be a myth that you are not allowed to talk with your colleagues about your pay,” said the Juliane Marie Neiiendam.

At many workplaces, any talk about pay is often subject to taboo. Sometimes, the management itself encourages a culture in which all talk about pay is taboo. In Denmark, it is illegal to pay men and women different salaries on the basis of their gender.

"If we start talking more openly about pay at Danish workplaces, and more generally in the public sphere, we’ll be able to break the pay taboo. Because, if you don’t know what your colleagues earn, neither do you know whether there is equal pay at your workplace. Then we haven’t got a snowball's chance of ensuring solidarity and equal pay,” said the Juliane Marie Neiiendam.

Do you talk to your colleagues about how much you earn?

  2017 2018 total 2018 %
 Yes  21.9%  3.980  22.7%
No  76.2%  13.278  75.7%
Don’t know 2.0%  280  1.6%
Total  100%  17.538  100%

Do the following statements apply regarding your workplace or your opinion about talking about pay?

  Yes No Don’t know Total
 My workplace has rules against talking about pay. 7.5%  69.3%  23.2%  100.0%
It is considered inappropriate to talk about pay at my workplace. 40.4% 25.0%  34.6%  100.0%
Pay is personal matter and I don’t want to talk about it. 41.7%  48.0%  10.3%  100.0%
My manager doesn’t want us to talk about pay. 15.1%  35.0%  50.0%  100.0%
My colleagues don’t want to talk about pay. 21.8%  23.1%  55.1%  100.0%
I earn more than my colleagues and therefore I don’t want to talk about pay. 13.8%  40.0%  46.2%  100.0%
I earn less than my colleagues and therefore I don’t want to talk about pay. 2.1%%  50.1%  47.7%  100.0%