Speak up for Equal Pay, Even If Locked-Down

Not that we wouldn’t all be worried by the looming collapse of our economy… but why aren’t we equally worried about the economic growth lost due to gender discrimination? About the potential that society has given up on the moment we became numb to the unequal working conditions of many women?

I remember the sour feeling in my throat, when I asked for the entry salary at my first job and got an immediate yes. The embarrassment of that business lesson turned into an anger over a life lesson. Why didn’t he offer more if he was prepared to pay more? Why hadn’t I been advised to ask for 19% more of what I thought was ‘appropriate’? That was at the beginning of this millenium in Slovakia.

Not that much has changed since that time. If you don’t want your daughter to experience the same, act on the one thing I’m inviting you to do at the end of this article.

The average gender pay gap in the EU remains at over 16%. 

Yes, there are all kinds of numbers, methodologies and opinions floating around. The point is - we need to acknowledge the reality and most of all empower those who empower women in their career and business life. We need to tackle the numbers (of labour market participation, pay gap or access to decision-making positions) so we can finally speak about the value of diversity for the quality of results (when negotiating, managing, educating or leading a country through a pandemic). 

By the way, as most of us are safely locked-down at home, 70% of the health and social care warriors at the frontline of the COVID-19 response are women. Yet, according to the UN, they are paid 11% less than their male counterparts. 

That’s why it is such an honour to have had a chance to co-shape the recently adopted Gender Equality Strategy for an EU of Equality.

It might resonate with many of you reading this - after years of activism for women’s rights, coaching women to unleash their talent, hosting women’s networks and a podcast on feminine leadership (check out Lights on Europe on your podcast app), I finally have a chance to work on a subject that I am passionate about. And all that under a unique leadership of Ursula von der Leyen and Helena Dalli. Two women on top of the EU making the change possible for all women in the EU. 

Now we need you to help us turn this possibility into the next step as we translate this strategy into more detailed actions. By the end of the year, the Commission will propose measures for pay transparency so that women and men receive equal pay for the work of equal value. Do you want to share your experience and opinion of possible solutions? Fill in this short questionnaire consulting Europeans on (i) gender-based pay discrimination and (ii) pay transparency measures. Once done, share the link in your networks. We need to hear from as many of you as possible - before 28th May

The views expressed in this article are personal and can not be attributed to the European Commission as an official position. 

About the author: Lucia Klestincova

Lucia KlestincovaLucia is known as the voice of transformation of the EU via “new culture” leadership and women empowerment. She is a policy-maker, podcast host, founder of several women networks, and a career coach of young leaders aiming to get inwards and upwards on the European leadership ladder. During seven years of her career at the European Commission, her responsibilities ranged from Brexit coordination, through digital government procurement, to rolling out gender equality in the EU policies. Follow her on social media to exchange and collaborate on purpose-driven leadership, EU careers mentoring or growing the podcast Lights on Europe.


Author: Lucia Klestincova, European Commission 
Copy Edited: Rebecca Fountain, Head of Marketing and Communications, PWN Global
Date: April 2020

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