Equal Pay for Equal Work

Equal Pay for Equal Work

On average, women in Austria earn 14.3 percent less than men. How long until the pay gap is finally closed?

Equal Pay Day symbolizes the day of the year until which women work unpaid – compared to the annual income of men. In Austria it falls on February 21 this year.

Eva Mandl is the managing director of the Viennese PR agency Himmelhoch with 40 employees. The entrepreneur set up her own agency in 2007 and holds women and men accountable when it comes to financial equality between the sexes and the long-needed feminist change in our society. We spoke to her about fair wages, the role model function of women for women and tips for salary negotiations.

Eva Mandl: Quite frankly: I ask myself that too. Because the qualifications are there, the women are well trained. One aspect is certainly the double burden. It is still mainly women who do unpaid work and look after children and the elderly. You saw that again especially in times of Covid. Who stays at the end of the day when kindergarten is closed ? That’s where you have to start if you want to change something.

One also often hears: women sell themselves less well than men, always consider whether they are worth something, men sell the service more. Especially when it comes to higher positions, including positions on the supervisory board, there could be something to it. With our company, we regularly organize congresses, for which we are regularly looking for women to act as keynote speakers or lecturers. Many tell us they don’t dare to do it, they’re not good enough for it. To be honest, I’ve never heard that from a man.

What is your position on quota regulations? Do you think that’s a good idea?

I don’t think anything will change if we don’t introduce quotas. This is a big issue, especially for the supervisory boards and executive boards. The Equal Treatment Act has existed since the late 1970s, but we see that there is no equal treatment. The reality is: men hold the top positions, men earn more. At least I don’t know of any industry where women would earn more than men.

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This year women in Austria work an average of 52 days for free. How can the wage gap be closed?

One would have to start in adolescence and make girls interested in professions and sectors where the pay is better, such as the classic MINT professions ( note: the abbreviation MINT stands for the fields of mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology ). It would also be important to question in general why jobs in some sectors that are particularly female-heavy are paid so poorly and why adjustments are made here. It is said again and again that the nursing profession is valued so much, but this appreciation is of no use at the end of the day. It’s all well and good to be appreciated, but in the end it’s all about the payment being fair. In addition, it would have to be supported even more, for example by companies and politicians, that men also go on parental leave.

Another point: Many women work part-time, which affects not only their pensions but also their later salaries. Here one would have to create incentives not to do that. However, this would require appropriate conditions, sufficient childcare places, etc. Simply to decide, “We are now closing the schools, the women can simply stay at home”, as was the case with Corona – something like that cannot be. You have to create the infrastructure so that the women are also released. Caring for family members is also largely the responsibility of women.

In addition, transparency is required. Large companies ( note: from 150 employees* ) are already obliged to provide income reports with the average salaries of men and women. That’s already a step in the right direction.

In some federal states, the wage gap is significantly wider than in others. This year’s Equal Pay Day in Vienna took place on January 18th, in Vorarlberg it won’t be until March 26th.

In other countries, such as in Scandinavia, maximum wage transparency has been practiced for several years. What do you think? Could that be a lever for even more wage equity?

I’m not sure if disclosing all wages doesn’t create some unrest. Not even necessarily gendered. I think the average is right and good. On the other hand, transparency is of course very important. If I think about it for a while…why not? I’m from a generation that doesn’t talk about salaries.

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It is precisely this “one does not talk about money” mentality, as we have it in Austria, that reinforces grievances and makes wage injustice possible in the first place, don’t you think?

You’re right. Otherwise nothing will change. From that point of view it is correct. Transparency would show a lot, namely also in general: What do people earn for which job? Not just related to gender.

Our mothers and grandmothers have done and pushed a hell of a lot. We now have a responsibility to go one step further.
by Eva Mandl, Managing Director Himmelhoch
What can women do themselves for fair wages?

I think the most important thing is that we talk about it, make it an issue and don’t accept unfair pay. The Equal Pay Day is a good campaign to draw attention to this problem. We must not stop demanding. Some then come up with the argument: “The women have already achieved so much anyway” – yes, we have our mothers and grandmothers to thank for that. They have achieved a hell of a lot and pushed an insane amount forward. We now have the responsibility to go one step further, there is still a lot to be done.

I think we women of a certain age also have a role model function for the younger ones. If we don’t commit ourselves and make demands, then nothing will change. And that’s just harder for someone who is 20 at the beginning of their career. Luckily there were and are also politicians who are committed to this. One Johanna Dohnal, for example, has always spoken out in favor of women’s rights. We need these role models who stand up and make demands and show that it works .

In the public debate, it is mainly women who speak out. Isn’t that a problem if the topic is only dealt with one-sidedly?

one hundred percent. Women make it an issue while men take it easy or say nothing because it suits them anyway. If men got involved more here and took on responsibility, we would probably be further along. It’s just not fair. We don’t demand any special treatment, just equal pay for work of equal value. Everything should be done there, including men and politicians. It’s actually crazy that we still have to demand it at all.

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This thought: ‘I can live with it, I’ll get by with it anyway’, that’s not what it’s about. The point is that it should be fair.
by Eva Mandl, Managing Director Himmelhoch
Keyword demands: how do you approach this in practice? How can you get the best out of salary negotiations?

There is a nice formula: success equals performance times communication squared. If I want to be successful, I have to communicate that and make sure that the right people see it. Especially when I am in a large company and am conducting salary negotiations, my supervisor may not even know what I am doing, so it is important to put that in the foreground. Try not to doubt yourself and question your own worth so much, but to state your achievements clearly. If you want to be successful, you have to be able to talk about your own successes.

Also, always remember: A salary negotiation does not only happen in this hour in which the interview takes place, but throughout the year. Showing yourself and getting involved again and again, not hiding your own work – all of that makes a difference.

Also, women shouldn’t just compare themselves to other women, but also to men and say clearly: “What does my colleague earn? That’s exactly what I want too”.

Do you have any final advice or wishes for the future on how to ensure more gender equality?

I wish we could be brave more often. Not just brave for ourselves, but brave for the other women. That we don’t just go into salary negotiations for ourselves, but for all women. Especially those of the next generations. You just feel a lot stronger if you keep that in mind, I think. Also this thought: “I can live with it, I’ll get by with it anyway”, that’s not what it’s about. It’s just that it should be fair.

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