Fair Pay Best Practice Summit on 17 December 2019, Federal Ministry for Family Affairs
For the first Fair Pay Best Practice Summit, 120 experts gathered at the Ministry of Family Affairs in Berlin to discuss the swiftest routes to fair pay. It became apparent that two major breakthroughs are needed in order to finally close the pay gap in 2020.
In the last two years, the FPI has held Fair Pay Management Circles in ministries and companies, and has consulted 204 experts from the fields of economics, academia and politics about fair pay. At these events the whole fair pay alphabet came under scrutiny - from access to information, through compliance, certification, digitalisation, equality, pay transparency and reporting obligations to women in management. It was high time to bring this accumulated expertise together. In December, the Federal Ministry in Berlin hosted more than 100 guests from our previous Circles, as well as many more experts from a number of sectors for the very first Fair Pay Best Practice Summit.
A meeting of movers and shakers
In her keynote speech, Dr Franziska Giffey referred to the meeting as a “Brainstorming by Fair Pay role models” and a meeting of “movers and shakers”, adding that the participants list was impressive. Giffey was particularly pleased about the high proportion of men among the guests, observing that at most events on this subject, men were as rare as hens’ teeth!
Fittingly, a report published on the morning of the summit announced some outwardly positive news, with Germany moving back into the Global Top Ten in equality terms. In the Global Gender Gap Report Germany compares favourably with other countries in education, politics and health. However, a closer look at the figures shows that in economic independence and fair pay, Germany still has some catching up to do.
It all depends on your attitude
Catching up is not something that American software firm Adobe Systems needs to do. Quite independently of the local legislation at their numerous sites around the world, the company achieved global Gender Pay Parity on 22 October 2018 – after a process lasting two years globally (just six months in Europe). According to Frank Rohde of Adobe, in his keynote lecture in Berlin, what’s decisive here is the board setting clear objectives: “It’s all about attitude,” emphasises the head of HR, reminding us that money was originally women’s business: it wasn’t the Viking men but the Viking women who took the lead and were responsible for the finances – until Christianity got in the way.
At Adobe they know cultural change takes more than adjusting salaries. Equal pay is just the first step, as Rohde quotes global HR boss Donna Morris. The software giant’s decisive approach also quite clearly owes something to self-interest: young IT workers are now quite deliberately choosing Adobe because of its well-known pay parity – a real advantage in the competition for sought-after talent, which begins in schools. Randolf Bursian from Evonik Industries AG, (famous for being the sponsor of Borussia Dortmund football club), emphasised how much depends on the authenticity of the management boards. In his speech, the head of HR in Germany showed how fair pay succeeds if equality is pursued from the top and is implemented with all its consequences. For example, the chemicals company has set up a ring-fenced budget for employees on parental leave.
Measure, measure, measure
Just how decisive a company’s attitude can be on the way to success in matters of fair pay was also shown by the subsequent podium discussion with Barbara Thiel from thyssenkrupp, Katja Ploner from Siemens, Nina Keim from Salesforce and Leópold Kristjánsson from PayAnalytics. The discussion showed that at least as important as the right attitude is a precise knowledge of the company’s finances. Pay structures have to be repeatedly analysed and used to track progress.
The Icelandic software firm PayAnalytics provides companies with practical support in the form of software. For example, with the help of PayAnalytics, the energy provider Reykjavik Energy was able to close its internal pay gap to 0 per cent within just a few years, according to Leópold Kristjánsson in the podium discussion chaired by Henrike von Platen. The developer and designer explained how the gender pay gap can be monitored on a day-to-day basis with the aid of the software. With every appointment or promotion, it’s possible to simulate what effect the HR decision would have on the pay gap in the company – and the software provides recommendations for action. “The software recommends, but management takes the decisions,” Kristjánsson clarified, adding: “When the data are checked regularly, fair pay is child’s play.”
The best prospects for fair pay in 2020
In fact, Frank Rohde posed the obvious question: “What reason could there be for paying a woman less?” But even companies with the best intentions often lack the knowledge on how they can implement fair pay sustainably. In their search for the right methods and instruments, they can find advice in the FPI best practice guide, hot off the press. The document title is: “Fair Pay in der Praxis – eine Anleitung in 4 Schritten” [Fair pay in practice – an instruction manual in 4 steps], and it’s available to download here. So no more excuses!
The “Brainstorming by Fair Pay role models” concluded that organisations need the right attitude and the right measurement tools. With those in place, just add the right guidelines and the right software and fair pay will be implemented – following the Icelandic model – in the blink of an eye. Barbara Thiel, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at thyssenkrupp, is confident that a great deal will be achieved in 2020: “I’d like to come back next year and report on 12 months with our first female CEO at thyssenkrupp.”
Additional reporting on the Fair Pay Best Practice Summit 2020 in Berlin:
German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth: “Faire Bezahlung von Frauen und Männern – Lohngerechtigkeit in Unternehmen fördern” [Promote fair pay for women and men – promoting equal pay in companies]
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Unterschiedliche Gehälter: ‘Faire Bezahlung ist kein Hexenwerk’” [Differing salaries: ‘fair pay isn‘t witchcraft’], by Josefine Janert
HR info podcast: “Gleiches Gehalt für Frauen und Männer – Fair Pay lohnt sich” [Equal pay for women and men – fair pay delivers], by Alexander Schmitt
Watch Salon: “Zählen, Messen, Haltung zeigen - der Weg zu fairer Bezahlung” [Counting, measuring, taking a stand – the road to fair pay], by Angelika Knop
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Best Practice wanted
Wir sind der festen Überzeugung, dass Lohngerechtigkeit schon morgen möglich wäre – wenn alle sie wollten. Das zeigen gerade jene Unternehmen, in denen es schon jetzt fair(er) zugeht.