How to implement pay transparency at your workplace

With pay transparency among employees, you are collectively stronger in salary negotiations with management. IDA legal adviser Lars Budde Nielsen advises on how to create pay transparency in your workplace.

It's hard to say what impact pay transparency has on a workplace, but one thing is clear.

"Overall in a workplace, it helps employees to get a better salary. I can say that with certainty. And just as importantly, it can help to create a better balance between employees' salaries in the individual company - in other words, equal pay," says Lars Budde Nielsen, chief legal adviser at IDA.

On a daily basis, he advises company groups and academic clubs on how best to organise in their workplace.

Here's his advice for creating a more open pay culture in your workplace.

Discuss it with your colleagues

The most important thing, of course, is to get your colleagues on board. Do you talk about pay informally at all?

"Many people really want to talk about salary, but don't for the sake of good atmosphere. And it never hurts to ask colleagues about their salary, based on the fact that you're unsure whether you're getting what you deserve. Later, you can open the discussion about whether it would make sense for you to be open about your pay together."

Guide: Organise in the workplace

If you are more than 5 STEM educated employees or other academics in your company, it's a good idea to join forces and get organised.

We've created a guide to getting started with business groups and academic clubs.

Read the guide (PDF)

This could be done, for example, with an annual excel sheet showing the salaries of all those who wish to participate in a salary transparency scheme. And preferably a bit more information than that. But we'll come back to that later.

Create a company group

If you haven't already organised with your colleagues at your workplace, the first step would be to set up a company group with other academics.

"They don't have to be IDA members. It can also be lawyers, communication workers or others with an academic background," he says.

Guide to setting up a business group or academic club (In Danish)

Talk to HR or IDA

If you have already organised your workplace, the next step is to qualify the salary data you need to be able to share among yourselves, says Lars Budde Nielsen.

"It's clear that not everyone should be paid the same, which is why it's important to make a more detailed payroll that shows, for example, seniority, graduation year and job type. So you have to be aware in general that the comparison can be a complicated calculation."

He encourages contacting the workplace HR department to collaborate on salary data. Or you can contact IDA, which has well-developed salary statistics and can help individual company groups get an overview of salary levels.

Not necessarily in the interest of management

Just as pay transparency is a valuable tool for employees, pay closure - let's call it that - is also a tool for management to control salaries.

Lars Budde Nielsen does not see many converging interests in introducing pay transparency between employees and management.

"It makes a lot of sense to look into pay transparency when promoting an equal pay agenda. Here it is a good idea to get a cooperation going with the management. There are no employers today who are interested in having a recognised equal pay problem."

But open pay can also create challenges in a workplace, emphasises Lars Budde Nielsen. That's why it's important to do your homework properly, both with management and with colleagues.

"It can especially lead to bad feelings if the company is not prepared to do something about inappropriate pay gaps. Unfortunately, we have seen examples of this."