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Addressing the gender pay gap: Government and social partner actions – Finland

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On average, women’s pay based on regular working hours is about 19% less than men’s in 2008. The difference is €583/month. From the different government platforms and equality programmes, it can be seen that the agenda of gender equality has remained quite similar between 1997 and 2008. Policy has been concentrated on the disadvantages of women’s labour market position and the widening of women’s career possibilities. However, the concrete achievements of the equality policy have been quite very limited.

1. The gender pay gap: national data

1.1. Please provide the reference details (see fact-sheet below), including a brief summary, of the main studies and research on the size and the determinants of the gender pay gap in your country published in the period 1999-2009.

National studies on the gender pay gap: Fact-sheet no.1

National studies on the gender pay gap

Fact-sheet no. 1

Title

Three Decades of Working Conditions. Findings of Finnish Quality of Work Life Surveys 1977-2008

Authors

Anna-Maija lehto & Hanna Sutela

Year of publication

2009

Bibliographic references

Statistics Finland, Labour Market

Link to electronic copy of the report

http://www.stat.fi/tup/julkaisut/working_conditions.pdf

Coverage (nation-wide, sectors, occupations, regions, etc: please specify in detail)

Nation-wide, all sectors

Time span (e.g. 1995-2003)

1977–2008

Data-set (official, ad-hoc survey or study, etc: please specify in detail)

The report describes the findings of the Quality of Work Life Surveys over the 30-year period. The QWL-Surveys are extensive studies that involve between 3,000 and 6,000 people and cover the entire wage and salary earning population in Finland.

Type of analyses performed on the data-set (methods, e.g. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition)

Statistical methods

Main results. Unadjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends

1984 1990 1997 2003 2008

76.7% 75.4% 79.5% 79.7% 79.5%

Main results. Adjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends  
Main results. Please list the individual and/or workplace variables taken into consideration in the adjusted gender pay gap (e.g. education, age, seniority, working hours, occupation, region, sector, firm size, etc.)

The main result is that the unadjusted gender pay gap has remained quite stable from the beginning of 1980s to 2008, and the women’s pay as proportion of men’s pay has been about 80% during the past decade.

Education has been traditionally considered to be a central factor contributing to a person's pay. The differences in education levels between women and men have also been used to try and explain the differences in pay between men and women. This explanation is clearly not suitable for Finland, as there is hard evidence of women being more highly educated than men when we compare education levels. Women's education level has risen faster than men's, and women have had the advantage in higher education already for approximately 15 years (See the chapter on "Structural changes in the wage and salary earning population"). According to the Quality of Work Life Survey of Statistics Finland, the low amount of women's average earnings compared men men's is noticeable in all education levels. The difference in pay between women and men with high-level education has been systematically largest in all surveys, and in favour of men.

Main results. Which ‘institutional’ or policy variables (qualitative or quantitative) have been taken into account in the study?

Is there evidence (i.e. in multi-national studies incorporating your country, or when observing a national switch in policies such as, for instance, the introduction of sectoral minimum wages) that certain institutional factors or policies have tended to affect (narrow) the gender pay gap?

Processes aimed at achieving more individuality affect the formation of pay. For women, the problem of dispersed negotiation and local agreements is that women do not possess enough negotiating power. Payment by results systems also, at least for now, work mostly in favour of men, as female-dominated occupations are not profitable in the same manner as male-dominated occupations. Further, evaluating personal work performances can be more difficult in women's occupations than it is in men's, as it is more difficult to measure and assess performance in the work involving human relations that is more common among women.

Main results. The determinants of the gender pay gap: please provide a brief summary

In Finland, women have received less often variable pay than men and these differences are related to occupational segregation; women are less often employed in occupations covered by variable pay systems. Moreover, the amounts paid to men are higher than the amounts paid to women.

Main results. Policy recommendations: please provide a brief summary

N.A.

Female pay as a percentage of male pay.

National studies on the gender pay gap: Fact-sheet no.2

National studies on the gender pay gap

Fact-sheet no. 2

Title

The Gender Wage Gap and Sex Segregation in Finland

Authors

Ossi Korkeamäki, Tomi Kyyrä & Antti Luukkonen

Year of publication

2003–2005

Bibliographic references

VATT-Discussion Papers

Link to electronic copy of the report

http://www.uta.fi/kirjasto/pdf/pdfkirjat/Keskustelualoite327.pdf

Coverage (nation-wide, sectors, occupations, regions, etc: please specify in detail)

Nation-wide, private manufacturing sector

Time span (e.g. 1995-2003)

Year 2000

Data-set (official, ad-hoc survey or study, etc: please specify in detail)

The data is composed of 165,658 observations of blue-collar workers in 1328 firms and 124,005 observations of white-collar workers in 1354 firms.

Type of analyses performed on the data-set (methods, e.g. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition)

Econometric and statistical methods: The study use matched employer-employee data to compare wage differentials between similarly qualified female and male workers who are doing the same job for the same employer. The modeling approach employs a nested random effects specification to account for the hierarchical grouped structure of the underlying data.

Main results. Unadjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends  
Main results. Adjusted gender pay gap (W/M%*): please indicate both levels and trends

The study evaluates the extent to which the gender wage gap in the Finnish manufacturing sector is attributable to within-job wage differentials, sex differences in individual qualifications, and disproportionate concentration of women in lower-paying firms and lower-paying jobs within firms. White-collar women are found to earn 22% less on average than their male counterparts do. Among blue-collar workers, women’s mean wage is 16% lower than men’s mean wage. The major part of the gender wage gap of white-collar workers results from sex segregation among jobs within firms. By contrast, most of the gap of blue-collar workers is attributable to sex segregation among firms. Unexplained within-job wage differentials account for a quarter of the overall gap of white-collar workers and one-fifth of the overall gap of blue-collar workers.

Main results. Please list the individual and/or workplace variables taken into consideration in the adjusted gender pay gap (e.g. education, age, seniority, working hours, occupation, region, sector, firm size, etc.)

The study investigates how segregation of women and men into certain occupations, industries, firms and jobs within firms is reflected in the gender wage gap in the Finnish manufacturing sector. Using a matched employer-employee data the study evaluates wage differentials between men and women in similar occupation with the same employer. This allows us to separate the effects of labour market segregation and differences in human capital and estimate the unexplained within-job wage gap. The study finds that at least half of the gender wage gap arises from labour market segregation while human capital differences by sex account for less than 10 per cent.

Main results. Which ‘institutional’ or policy variables (qualitative or quantitative) have been taken into account in the study?

Is there evidence (i.e. in multi-national studies incorporating your country, or when observing a national switch in policies such as, for instance, the introduction of sectoral minimum wages) that certain institutional factors or policies have tended to affect (narrow) the gender pay gap?

 
Main results. The determinants of the gender pay gap: please provide a brief summary

The study investigates how the segregation of women and men into certain occupations, industries, firms and jobs within the firms is reflected in the gender wage gap in the Finnish manufacturing sector. Using matched employer-employee data the study evaluates wage differentials between men and women doing the same kind of job for the same employer. This allows the authors to differentiate between wage differentials caused by human capital differences, wage differentials resulting from labour market segregation and within-job wage differentials. The study finds that at least half of the gender wage gap can be attributed to labour market segregation while human capital differences by sex account for less than 10 percent.

Main results. Policy recommendations: please provide a brief summary

The main findings add some useful insight to this debate. Obviously, any successful policy for narrowing the wage gap should pay particular attention to sex segregation. Given the importance of sex segregation, it is essential to guarantee equal opportunities in hiring and promotion. The analysis remains, however, silent about why women are concentrated in lowerpaying occupations and jobs. Sex segregation may involve discrimination through differential access to high-paid positions, or it may result from sex differences in preferences.

* Female pay as a percentage of male pay.

1.2. Are there any studies published in the 1999-2009 period, possibly using qualitative methods, which investigate the social processes which contribute to determining the gender pay gap through selection, occupational segregation, discrimination, and the like? Is there any research on the development of pay gaps during the life course? Do pay gaps emerge at the beginning of the individual careers of women or do they become significant at later stages of professional development? Because of different gendered career paths or because pay gaps tend to increase as the professional career advances (i.e. higher gaps at higher organisation positions)?

Sami Napari’s doctoral dissertation Essays on the gender wage gap in Finland (2009) is an empirical study of the gender wage gap in Finland. Much of the dissertation focuses explicitly on the early career as it is found that the first years after labour market entry are of great importance with respect to the overall gender wage gap. The dissertation consists of three essays.

The first essay explores the early-career gender wage gap in the Finnish private sector. The study finds that the gender wage gap increases significantly during the first ten years after labour market entry accounting for most of the life-time increase in the gender wage gap. The more detailed analysis of the factors contributing to the early-career gender wage focuses on university graduates. In Finland, part-time rates among university graduates are very low as well as the gender difference in these rates. The study considers several explanations for the gender wage gap based on the human capital theory, job mobility and labour market segregation. The results suggest that about 20 to 26 per cent of the average early-career gender wage gap is explained by gender differences in qualifications considered. Of the investigated factors gender differences in the field of education and work experience matter most.

In the second essay, the study investigates in more detail the role of university majors in explaining the gender wage gap. Using data from the Confederation of Finnish Industries (Elinkeinoelämän Keskusliitto, EK), significant gender differences in majors among white-collar workers are found. These differences in education account for about 38 per cent of the gender wage gap among young white-collar workers with a bachelor-level degree after controlling for age, year, gender, region, industry and firm size. The corresponding number for young white-collar workers with a master-level degree is roughly 31 per cent. There are no considerable differences in the effects of majors between new entrants and white-collar workers having more work experience. Furthermore, similarity of the results between OLS and panel methods controlling for unobserved individual factors implies that the effect of university majors is unlikely to reflect unobserved heterogeneity. Finally, women’s gains from equalizing educational distributions do not depend on the price structures used.

Using data from the Finnish manufacturing sector, the last essay studies the factors contributing to the gender gap in early-career wage growth. The analysis shows that the size of the gender gap in wage growth varies with mobility status, the gap being much higher when changing employers compared to within-firm wage growth. Several explanations for the gender gap in wage growth based on human capital theory and theory of compensating wage differentials are considered. However, much of the gap in wage growth remains unexplained. Further analysis documents that the female penalty in wage growth increases significantly as we move along the conditional wage growth distribution with a sharp acceleration in the gap at the top of the distribution.

1.3. Are there any studies in your country on how gender differentials of pay have been affected by the current economic crisis?

The current economic recession has mostly hit the male-dominated sectors.

It has been evaluated that the employment of women in Finland on an international scale is at a very high level. According to Statistics Finland: the female employment rate in the year 2008 was 68.9%, which was almost as high as mens (72.3%)

During the economic recession, the level of employment of both women and men has decreased. Even so, women do seem to have survived the consequences of the economic crisis better than men in Finland. For example in January 2009, the proportion of unemployed women decreased when at the same time, men’s unemployment rate increased. The consequences of the recession primarily show in male based export industries.

When we look at the levels of unemployment among women and men, we can see that the unemployment of young men (15–19 years) and older men (55–59 years) is at higher level than the same aged women’s. It seems that young men attach to the working life later in life than women do.

According to the statistics women’s employment has grown clearly faster than men’s during the current decade. The employment has especially risen fast in young and old age groups.

Further comment here: the question asks whether there is evidence that the GENDER PAY GAP is affected by the crisis. The statistics given here can serve as an introduction, but the GPG aspect should be considered when answering these questions.

2. Government initiatives to address the gender pay gap

2.1. In light of the current economic crisis, has the national government taken any steps to assess and monitor the impact of the current economic downturn on gender pay inequalities? If yes, please briefly illustrate them, including the results of such assessment. Has the government started any initiatives to prevent or address the possible widening of the gender pay gap because of the economic downturn?

The ongoing economic crisis has struck mostly to the male-dominated sectors of economy.

2.2. Please illustrate the major government initiatives to address the gender pay gap put in place since 2005. Since there is extensive legislation on gender equality, interventions are usually of an indirect nature.

For instance, these could include:

  • Awareness-raising campaigns
  • Monitoring initiatives of the gender pay gap, or gender equality in employment in general
  • Tripartite initiatives triggered by the government on equal pay or gender equality in employment in general
  • Establishment/creation of specific bodies to address the gender pay gap, or gender equality in employment in general
  • Legislation on incentive-driven or mandatory equality plans at company level
  • Legislation on quota-systems in certain positions, such as in company boards
  • Education and training policies specifically aimed at women with a view to address occupational segregation (e.g. addressing career choices of young women)
  • Fiscal policies or income support measures targeted on low-paid jobs where female employment is particularly high
  • Interventions on parental leave regulation to support female career development
  • Interventions on care services to support female career development

In the general targets of the present government's platform, it is stated that the equality in general and in the labour market needs determinante acts. The improvement of gender equality is located in the section welfare policy. The government has issued a special government action plan for gender equality 2008–11. The government’s goal is to clearly reduce the differences in pay between men and women during its term of office. The program promises that the government is working towards equality purposefully, and verifies the gender perspective to be mainstreamed when drafting legislation, in budget estimating processes and in other significant projects, already in the beginning of the processes. The gender perspective and the equality awareness are observed in schools, teacher trainings, in social and health services and narrowing of health differences.

In 2008, the Finnish government issued a new action plan for 2008–2011 to promote gender equality. Priorities include promoting women’s careers, gender equality awareness in schools and work–life balance, as well as reducing the gender pay gap, gender segregation in the labour market and violence against women. The government will continue the tripartite equal pay programme and support measures undertaken by labour market organisations to advance gender equality and equal pay.

The government is committed to promoting gender equality by means of a new action plan for the period 2008–2011. In this regard, every government ministry has chosen at least one major project and will assess its impact on the situation of women and men. The gender perspective is also incorporated in the most important government operations – from law drafting to drawing up the budget and planning activities.

Priorities in the government action plan are based on the most important gender equality policy objectives defined in the government policy platform. Such priorities include promoting women’s careers, reducing the gender pay gap, increasing awareness of gender equality in schools and adopting measures to reduce gender segregation in the labour market. The action plan will also involve concrete measures to improve the reconciliation of work and family life and to reduce violence against women.

Reducing gender pay gap

The government has stated that it aims to clearly reduce the differences in pay between men and women during its term of office. Therefore, it will continue the tripartite equal pay programme and it will support different kinds of measures undertaken by labour market organisations to advance gender equality and equal pay. Moreover, the government aims to assess a reduction in the pay gap and decisions of the labour market organisations on the basis of the equal pay programme. The impact of the new pay systems on women’s and men’s pay will be examined in order to be able to take into account gender equality when developing the pay system.

2.3. Please illustrate the main initiatives by the government to address the gender pay gap since 2005 in the public sector. Here the government acts as the employer and can intervene more directly, even if often the rules on compensation leave less room for pay differentials.

These initiatives can include:

  • Quota-systems in managerial positions
  • Special training/support to women’s career
  • Mandatory equality plans for the public administrations
  • Special pay policies for low-paid occupations where female employment is particularly high (e.g. higher than average pay increases)

The minimum requirements for gender equality planning at workplaces were specified in the context of the amendment of the Act on Equality between Women and Men in 2005. As a part of gender equality planning employers have to carry out a gender specific pay survey and investigate reasons for any differences in pay. The Act is not target only to employees in the public sector, but the impact of the Act is most notable in the public sector, because particularly local government sector is highly female-dominated.

In 2006, the government and central labour market organisations launched a joint equal pay programme in order to tackle a gender pay gap in the Finnish labour market.

The government has committed itself to tripartite equal pay programme. The municipal public sector has been noticed in a special way: “The government has readiness to support with elevated state subsidy such wage solution that will promote wages of female-dominated sectors. The size of elevated state subsidy depends on how clearly the wage solution is directed to educated female-dominated fields where the salary does not coincide with the work competence.”

The government has issued measures to strengthen legislation on parental leave. The changes have included increasing the maternity allowance and improving opportunities to avail of paternity leave, improving flexibility for fathers of small children. This includes more flexible use of the month-long entitlement to paternity leave, as well as adjustments to maternity and parental allowances. The aim of the reform is to facilitate a better work–life balance for employees with families.

3. Social partner initiatives to address the gender pay gap

3.1. In light of the current economic crisis, have the social partners, whether unilaterally or jointly, taken any steps to assess and monitor the impact of the current economic downturn on gender pay inequalities? If yes, please briefly illustrate them, including the results of such assessment. Have the social partners started any initiatives to prevent or address the possible widening of the gender pay gap because of the economic downturn?

In Finland, there is no universal statutory minimum wage, but most employees are covered by collective agreements specifying minimum pay rates for various sectors of economic activity. In spring 2009, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK) argues that full-time workers should be paid at least €1,500 a month. Low wages are most common in the female-dominated sectors. (FI0906039I)

The government and social partners have established an Equal Pay Programme with website. Social partners have taken on a commitment to promote equal pay. The aim of the programme is to narrow the gender-based pay gap from current level (19%) to 15 % by 2015. The means taken to achieve this goal include: contract policy, decreasing of the gender-based segregation of occupations, development of pay systems and support for women’s career development. The Programme is supporting means to narrow the gender-based pay gap, and it is monitoring the development related to gender pay gap.

3.2. Please indicate whether the gender pay gap has figured prominently on the trade union agenda since 2005. Have the trade unions initiated in this period any specific initiatives to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such initiatives.

For instance, these could include:

  • Awareness-raising campaigns
  • Starting organising efforts targeted at low-paid occupations/sector where female employment is particularly high
  • Including the issue of the gender pay gap in collective bargaining rounds
  • Training initiatives to fight gender segregation

Gender equality has currently been high on the agenda of the social partners in Finland, with several achievements to be celebrated. The social partners have identified equality between women and men as one of their key priorities for 2008.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK) was celebrating year 2008 as the 70th anniversary of promoting equality at work. The women’s unit in SAK started its operations in 1938.

To celebrate the occasion, SAK has published a short history of gender equality in Finland to honour the work of its women’s unit, along with a brochure promoting gender equality in working life (Tasa-arvoa tosissaan (642Kb PDF)). The brochure highlights the historical achievements of the trade union confederation in terms of gender equality and outlines the new challenges in this respect, such as women’s low representation in leading positions in the trade union movement. Furthermore, the brochure emphasizes that gender equality is not only important for women but also for men; for instance, the right of men to parenthood and parental leave has long been ignored.

The social partners earmarked the year 2008 as the year for their joint planned development of gender equality. In 1997, they met for the first time to discuss gender equality issues at confederation level. After several positive experiences, they decided to establish a joint round table regarding gender issues. The operation of this round table has been regularized in the context of the national incomes policy agreement 1998–1999. One of the round table’s first focuses was on pay issues, such as equal pay for both sexes. In recent years, the round table has dealt with the issue of the gender pay gap, while also promoting policies to make it easier for workers to reconcile work and private life, particularly with family responsibilities. (FI0803029I)

According to the government’s action plan, schools play a key role in strengthening children’s and young people’s awareness of gender equality. Gender-sensitive instruction also contributes to preventing segregation of the work life. From this perspective, the action plan requires measures to be put in place in terms of teacher education and the development of textbooks. Schools should convey an unbiased view of what is suitable and possible for both sexes, and textbooks should not reinforce stereotyped gender roles through texts or pictures. (FI0808039I)

3.3. Please indicate whether the gender pay gap has figured prominently on the employer associations agenda since 2005. Have the main employer associations initiated in this period any specific initiatives to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such initiatives.

For instance, these could include:

  • Awareness-raising campaigns
  • Training initiatives to support the career development of women
  • Fighting gender stereotypes
  • Dissemination of diversity management practices

The Confederation of Finnish Industries (Elinkeinoelämän Keskusliitto, EK) sees that the choice of profession among young people in Finland continues to appear rather traditional. Educational choices continue to split the labour markets into women’s and men’s professions.

A senior adviser within EK, Anu Sajavaara says that: “The divide in the labour markets, i.e. segregation, does not seem to be disappearing. Although women are on average more educated than men are, women and men continue to pursue in part different fields and different tasks.”

On the contrary: education statistics reveal that in fields dominated by women, such as the humanities and education, the proportion of women is still increasing. The aim of the “Same Pay Programme” of the Finnish Government and labour market organisations is that the share of those employed by so-called “equal professions” would increase from around 16 percent to 25 percent by 2012. An equal profession is one in which similar numbers of women and men are employed.

“In the light of statistics concerning the choice of education, this aim seems impossible,” Sajavaara admits.

Women also pursue different tasks than men within different fields and jobs. Within the manufacturing industry women are usually employed in clerical or administrative positions. Women in management positions are often responsible for support tasks related to human resources or communications, rather than direct business tasks.

The share of women in management and upper management positions among EK member companies is increasing. Young women are the leaders of tomorrow. The number of young women in the construction and manufacturing industries is also rising significantly, and women seem to progress rapidly in their careers.

Corporate management positions generally require an in-depth knowledge of one’s industry, several years of working in a leadership position and long work experience. 

“For this reason most women leaders have thus far been in traditionally women-dominated fields. The number of women in traditionally male professions has increased significantly in recent years. We can expect the number of women in leadership positions to increase in these fields in the near future as the large age groups retire,” Sajavaara explains.

EK considers that gender-based occupational segregation explains wage differences. The split in the labour markets goes a long way in explaining the difference in average earnings among women and men. If women and men were more equally represented in different industries and different tasks, the wage difference would also diminish. Real equality can only be achieved when women and men work more equally in the same or similar tasks.

3.4. Please indicate whether multi-employer collective bargaining has contributed to address the gender pay gap since 2005. Has multi-employer collective bargaining introduced specific clauses or instruments to address the gender pay gap? Please illustrate the most important of such clauses or instruments.

For instance, these could include:

  • Information disclosure rights on wage differentials
  • The establishment of joint committees and observatories or other forms of joint cooperation on pay equity
  • Joint statements on equal pay or gender equality in employment in general
  • Special pay increases for occupations where female employment is particularly high
  • Revision of job classification systems to detect and eliminate discriminatory pay gaps
  • Special training, mentoring and other measures to support women’s career (including for women re-entering employment after maternity)
  • Special work-life balance arrangements to support the career development of women

The trade union confederations have welcomed the agreed pay increases of the sectoral bargaining round in the autumn of 2007. These pay increases will particularly benefit highly-educated women (FI0712049I). The President of the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland (Akateemisten Toimihenkilöiden Keskusjärjestö, AKAVA), Matti Viljanen, referred to the collective agreements in the municipal sector as a successful example in this regard (FI0710029I).

AKAVA has emphasized that, in the public sector at local and central government level, the equality allowance included in the agreed pay rise increases to about 2% for qualified employees in female-dominated occupations. Therefore, the agreements provide for wage increases which are about 10 times higher for highly-qualified women than those of previous equality pay increments. The latter only had a minor impact on AKAVA’s highly-educated female members. Exceptionally high pay rises in the municipal sector generally favour highly-educated women, since about three quarters of the workforce in local government bodies – that is, municipalities – are women, and the public sector has traditionally employed a large number of educated women.

3.5. Please indicate whether single-employer collective bargaining and social dialogue practices at company level have contributed to address the gender pay gap since 2005. Has single-employer collective bargaining introduced specific clauses or instruments to address the gender pay gap at company level? Please illustrate the most important of such clauses or instruments.

For instance, these could include:

  • Information disclosure rights on compensation systems and wage differentials
  • The establishment of joint committees and observatories or other forms of joint cooperation on pay equity
  • Special pay increases for jobs where female employment is particularly high
  • Revision of job classification systems to detect and eliminate discriminatory pay gaps
  • Special training, mentoring and other measures to support women’s career (including for women re-entering employment after maternity)
  • Special work-life balance arrangements to support the career development of women
  • Initiatives on equal pay or gender equality in employment in general at EWC level

At the food processing company, Cloetta Fazer Suklaa, in south Finland, women used to earn less than men, because women’s work was considered easier than men’s work: the company differentiated between so-called women’s and men’s machines. The company solved the problem by training every worker to use all kinds of machines. Women’s wages could thus be raised once their skills were developed. (FI0604019I)

3.6. Has the issue of the gender pay gap been particularly important in certain sectors? If yes, please indicate the sectors involved (up to three), the main reasons of such relevance and its most significant expressions and achievements (up to three for each sector - unilateral actions by employers or unions, joint initiatives, collective bargaining).

The gender pay gap is highest in the private sector and lowest in the central government sector. Anyway, the differences in employer sectors are not large. According to the wage statistics of the Confederation of Finnish Industry (Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto, EK), the pay gap between women and men rises when the income level rises in the private sector. So, the gender pay gap is lower in low-income level comparing the high-income level occupations.

4. Good practices

4.1. Since 2005, have there been any major initiatives to identify, collect and disseminate good practices on equal pay or more generally on gender equality in employment?

If yes, please illustrate:

  • who started such initiatives (the government, the social partners jointly, unions or employer associations, individual employers, researchers, etc.),
  • the main good practices identified by this exercise (up to three),
  • where they were originated (public sector, private sector, public policies, collective bargaining, unilateral action, etc.) and
  • whether and to what extent the dissemination efforts have been successful.

From 2005, gender equality planning has notably increased and is more diversified than before. Openness improves the quality of equality planning and helps the staff to recognise their rights and obligations with regard to gender equality.  In 2008, the Work Research Centre of the University of Tampere carried out the survey concerning gender equality planning at workplaces. According to the employer representatives, the most important impact of equality planning has been that it has furthered the reconciliation of work and family life.  Large workplaces have drawn up gender equality plans more often than small workplaces.

The Government will submit a report on the effectiveness of the Act on Equality between Women and Men towards the end of 2009. This report commissioned by the Equal Pay Programme of the Government and central labour market organisations from the University of Tampere will provide information on gender equality plans and subsequent measures. This year the Equal Pay Programme will also survey in more detail the practices of workplaces in drawing up equality plans. 

The amended Act of 2005 lays down the minimum requirements for gender equality planning. This has increased the pressure on employers: 62 per cent of the workplaces have drawn up a gender equality plan, while 60 per cent have made a pay survey.  A pay survey has been conducted by 77 per cent of the state workplaces, 60 per cent of the private sector workplaces, 58 of the municipal workplaces, and 44 per cent of the workplaces of the Evangelical Lutheran church.

The Act obliges the employers to make an equality plan and a pay survey annually. This obligation applies to workplaces with a regular staff of at least 30 persons. 

5. Commentary

5.1. Please provide your own assessment and comments on the initiatives to address the gender pay gap covered by this comparative study, including any further information that you consider important to illustrate the state-of-play of pay equity in your country.

On average, women’s pay based on regular working hours is about 19% less than men’s. The difference is €583/month (Statistics Finland, Index of Wage and Salary Earnings 2008).

From the different government platforms and equality programmes, it can be seen that the agenda of gender equality has remained quite similar between 1997 and 2008. Policy has been concentrated on eliminating the disadvantages of women’s labour market position and the widening of women’s career possibilities. Policy can also be described as focusing on the reduction of gender-based occupational segregation. The gender equality agenda has involved women’s and men’s employment, enhancement of female entrepreneurship, reduction of gender-based occupational segregation, women’s proportion in management jobs, enhancement of women’s career, fixed-term contracts, work and family interface, more equal distribution of family leave and reduction of the gender pay gap.

However, the concrete achievements of the equality policy have been quite unpretentious. The female proportion of enterprises has remained a third regardless of the fact that the enhancement of female entrepreneurship has been on the agenda of every gender equality programme from mid-1990s. The reduction of segregation has been very slow despite of hundreds of equality projects. The gender pay gap has decreased slowly in 2000s. At the current pace of reduction, the government’s goal to decrease gender pay gap from 20% to 15% by 2015, will not come true.

The equality policy has expected a special exemplariness from public sector employers. About half of all employees are working in the public sector, and some 80% of municipal employees are women. So, the wage trend in the local government sector is essential from the perspective of gender pay gap. The last sectoral bargaining round in 2007 offered higher pay increases to municipal sector than private sector. However, the current economic crisis has made the economic situation of local authorities worse.

Altogether, it is true that the main reason for gender pay gap in Finland is the fact that women are working in different fields of the economy than men. Thus, the segregation is the main explanation, but simultaneously it will explain nothing. It is impossible that women have to change their branch to achieve better salaries, but the only way to bring down gender pay gap is to improve the appreciation and payment of female-dominated occupations.

Pertti Jokivuori, Statistics Finland / University of Jyväskylä

Page last updated: 27 April, 2010
About this document
  • ID: FI0912019Q
  • Author: Pertti Jokivuori
  • Institution: Statistics Finland / University of Jyvskylä
  • Country: Finland
  • Language: EN
  • Publication date: 27-04-2010
  • EIRO Keywords: Equal opportunities, Pay