German Federal Labour Court takes a similar view
Negotiating skills do not justify a higher salary, the German Federal Labor Court decided last week. A former employee of a Saxon metal company had filed a complaint. In the third instance, she was awarded her lost wages and compensation. Why this decision by the Federal Labour Court was long overdue - and how companies can implement the principle of "equal pay for equal work".
Only a few weeks ago, the German Federal Statistical Office announced the new figures: Women in Germany still get almost a fifth less money for equal work of equal value. There are many reasons for the average income difference of 18 per cent: Women work part-time more often, tend to work in lower-paid jobs, take longer breaks due to child-caring and caregiving, and are less likely to be managers. The causes of discrimination in pay are complex - to say the least - and mainly rooted in structures. But to defend the status quo, the blame is often placed on women themselves. "Women wouldn't have it any other way", they say, it's in the nature of things: "Women simply give more value on family. And men can't have children or breastfeed." Men, on the other hand, like to work, and love competition - and that really can't be blamed on politics or companies!
"Women just can't negotiate"
However, it is not only women who are to blame because of the life plans given to them by Mother Nature, but also for another, very simple reason: "Women negotiate worse than men". For a long time, the negotiating skills of employees were considered a legitimate justification for income differences in the company - being able to sell oneself well was rewarded. And those who sell poorly have only to blame themselves - regardless of whether or not negotiating skills are required for the position to be filled. The fact that great self-confidence and strong negotiating skills are rewarded from the start of a career has long been widespread practice. Both qualities have been and will continue to be rewarded in the course of one's career, with every promotion, every salary increase and every job change, with every single career step.
Assertive - or bitchy?
The - very simple - conclusion: women need to learn to negotiate better! And to appear more self-confident! The range of tips, which sound like satire but unfortunately are not, run from "Negotiate like a guy, show that you are wearing the trousers!" to "In the negotiation meeting just smile with your boobs!". With advice like this, a whole lot of coaches earn a whole lot of money. Only the gender pay gap could not be closed so far. For several reasons.
Firstly, women do not negotiate worse. For a long time, scientists assumed that women's lack of negotiating skills contributed to the gender pay gap. But recent studies show that the problem lies elsewhere: Women's demands are valued differently than men's. A determined woman is not seen as assertive, but as bitchy. We find successful men attractive, successful women suspicious, we find them unsympathetic and would rather not work with them. It’s the gender bias of your counterpart to be blamed for the bad result when negotiating salaries: no one is immune to the prejudices in all our heads - whether boss or personnel manager or employee - we all unconsciously let them flow into our conversations and decisions.
Risk factor "woman of childbearing age".
Secondly, when it comes to a salary increase, promotion or hiring, a woman is classified as a risk because she could have children and drop out. Negotiating skills are of little help in such a situation. The "risk factor woman of childbearing age" urgently needs to be removed from the vocabulary of HR departments.
Leadership is masculine, and finance is a man's business, so we have been taught. Getting rid of this stereotyped thinking can take time. However, insight alone is of little help, it needs regular training. But the more women we see in leadership, the more powerful women we meet, the more women become a matter of course at all hierarchical levels and in all areas of professional life, the more the age-old attributions that have become so firmly anchored in our heads and gut feelings will disappear.
In order to close the gender pay gap, it would therefore make much more sense to have HR departments and managers visit regular unconscious bias training instead of sending women to negotiation seminars or teach them to behave differently or more masculinely in order to be successful in professional life. What good is the most competent, assertive candidate with the very best negotiation techniques if her counterpart intuitively finds these character traits inappropriate in a woman, so that she has no chance at all of being hired or promoted?
No fear of transparency
In addition: transparency is needed. It would be a lot easier if salary was not a guessing game, but if the structures were transparent from the start and negotiations were possible at eye level. To avoid unjustified differences in income, it is extremely effective to state the salary level or salary band already in job advertisements - an extremely simple solution with an extremely large effect. It is a rather curious practice that applicants are supposed to guess their market value on the off chance and the salary level negotiated in the end is a combination of chance and skill. After all, it is the companies that are buying a service here and should know their budget and value chains so well that it should be possible to give an indication of how much they are willing to spend for this service.
Fortunately, the German Federal Labor Court has now confirmed what we at the FPI have long advised workers and long recommended to companies certified by us: Unfair pay cannot be solved by attending a negotiation seminar. And companies are well advised to limit salary negotiations as much as possible.
The book on the verdict: Henrike von Platen: "We need to talk about money" (GERMAN)
Press release of the Society for Freedom Rights: "Equal pay is not a matter of negotiation" (GERMAN)
FPI - Was wir tun
Weshalb hält sich der Gender Pay Gap so hartnäckig? Was steht der Lohngerechtigkeit für alle im Wege? Was brauchen Unternehmen, um nachhaltige Entgeltstrategien praktisch umzusetzen?
Universal Fair Pay Check
Faire Bezahlung für alle: Der Universal Fair Pay Check sorgt für Orientierung im Maßnahmendschungel und setzt dem Zertifzierungschaos ein Ende.