In 2020 how does such a situation continue to exist and why such a variation across Europe?
When this article HYPERLINK BELOW originally appeared in the Brno Daily June 25, I asked for opinions and experience. The following is adapted from one of the responses in Czech Republic – a respected and experienced business associate.

Women Still Earn Over 20% Less Than Men In The Czech Republic

• Maternity leave.
If you hire a woman that doesn’t have children yet, it is assumed that in the near future, she will leave the business for 2 or more years. Therefore, from this point of view, she is ‘worse investment’ then a man on the similar position, where this is not a risk. There are not many options for day care for children under age of 2
(and when available is expensive, cost approx. Eur 300 per month per child, which women in lower paid positions just can’t afford.
Children are accepted to the state-owned kindergarten from the age of 3 in Cz. Rep.)
• Society pressure
A return to work after 6 months or more can invite accusations you are bad mother, not taking proper care of your child and putting your career first.
• Modesty and politeness
Women are taught that it’s not polite to ask for more money and are strongly raised to believe that modesty is the most important virtue. I could see this several times in my team, when top performers haven’t asked for a rise, because their work/results should speak for themselves and the manager should offer a pay rise.
• Self esteem
Mothers returning after 2+ years at home to the work environment generally lack confidence and self-evaluation is very low – employers very often count on that: after 2 years at home, she has forgotten everything and she won’t be as valuable an employee as a man coming directly from other company.

It must be reasonable to challenge these views now that the general opinion seems to be that WFH over a long period is possible and, in many cases desirable. Personally, I am suspicious and critical of the ‘new normal’ where businesses are considering WFH as a permanent option – this will the subject of a later blog.
All the ACCEE team work remotely, three of them with children, two mums, one dad and it does not impact productivity any more than in ‘old normal’ times. All the ACCEE team were WFH prior to Covid, two working from outside Europe.

The solutions to the Gender Pay Gap could be simple. (It should highlight that we are not referring to specialized management positions where negotiations should be specific to the job and the requirements of the individual.)
• Ladies, take ownership, go online, search for pay band comparisons.
• All employers to be entirely transparent about salary bands and to make such a declaration part of the employer branding value proposition. (When applying for a job ask to see the company statement about equal pay).
• Companies to allow mothers to return to work at a time that suits them – why not 3 to 6 months if WFH? (However, it is important that mum does make reasonably regular visits to the office).
• Companies to create an environment where mums can work from home, not necessarily in the same job but one that is of equal value.

An example in Credit / O2C this could work as follows when a collector advises the employer of pregnancy.
In the 4 to 6 months prior to maternity leave the Collector is retrained in Risk, Cash Allocation, Dispute Management, Billing or Database Management.
A member of the above participates in the handover and transition.
Collection is a job that is timebound (effective collections by ‘phone essential in office hours). The other positions whilst extremely important, can allow for varying degrees of flexibility.
• Budget holders, award everyone the same. Saving a few hundred Euros that is offset against tax is not really helping – think CSR! CSR starts with your employees and their communities.
• It is acknowledged that 18% attrition rate across CEE is average. Most employees move for various reasons with a small pay rise being one of them.
Many positive steps have been made but there is a way to go yet.
Where you have salary differentials please level them up.
I welcome comment and examples from all sides of this debate.

Mark Harrison

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