Only one in five discuss pay with their colleagues

If we are to eliminate unequal pay, openness about salary is one of our best tools. But only 21 per cent of IDA-members discuss their salary with their colleagues.

When it comes to openness about salary, many of IDA-members’ workplaces leave room for improvement. In a new survey among 17,807 privately employed engineers, science graduates and IT specialists, 21 per cent answer that they talk about pay with their colleagues. Almost six out of ten - 59 per cent - answer that they consider salary a private matter which they prefer not to discuss, and more than half of respondents consider discussing salary at the workplace inappropriate.

Thomas Damkjær Petersen, Chairman of IDA, is annoyed by the reluctance to pay transparency. Both among the members and the employers.

"If we are to take a stand against unequal pay, then openness about salary is one of the buttons we have to press. We need to get rid of the culture where all talk about what we earn is hidden away under a veil of secrecy. Whether it comes from the employees themselves or from the management at the individual workplace, this taboo simply contributes to the employers sitting with all the aces on hand when it comes to negotiating salaries,” he says.

In the survey, one in five responds that their manager does not want them to discuss their salary. And 10 per cent respond that their workplace actually has rules against doing so. And that is completely unacceptable, says Thomas Damkjær Petersen.

"It is a persistent myth that your salary conditions are a confidential agreement between you and your employer. And it is against the law on equal pay when employers try to prohibit their employees from talking about salary or when they go as far as to write confidentiality clauses about the individual salary conditions into an employment contract. We sometimes experience this when counselling our members. These measures contribute to keeping salary a taboo among colleagues, and it is a clear stumbling block in the work to, for example, create equal pay between the sexes for equal work,” says Thomas Damkjær Petersen.

Today, workplaces with at least 35 employees and at least 10 people of each gender within the same work function must compile salary statistics that take gender into account, or prepare a statement on equal pay in the workplace. Thomas Damkjær Petersen would like this practice to be extended to larger parts of the labour market, and the statistics to be shared with the employees at the individual workplace in order to create the greatest possible transparency.