European Equal Pay Day

On 28 February 2013, the European Commission marked the European Equal Pay Day.

The European Equal Pay Day is held annually and raises awareness of the fact that women have to work longer than men to earn the same. 16.2%: that’s the size of the gender pay gap, or the average difference between women and men’s hourly earnings across the EU, according to the latest figures released today by the Commission. To help tackle the pay gap, the Commission is highlighting a series of good practices by companies in Europe which have taken on the problem. It is the third time the Equal Pay Day takes place at European level, following its launch by the Commission on 5 March 2011  and the second day on 2 March 2012 .

“European Equal Pay Day reminds us of the unequal pay conditions women still face in the labour market. While the pay gap has declined in the recent years, there’s no reason to celebrate. The pay gap is still very large and much of the change actually resulted from a decline in men’s earnings rather than an increase for women”, said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. 
The principle of equal pay for equal work is written in the EU Treaties since 1957. It is high time that it is put in practice everywhere. Let us work together to deliver results not only on Equal Pay Days, but on all 365 days a year!”
Gender pay gap Statistics ( Source: Eurostat 2010, except for Greece: 2008)
The latest figures show an average 16.2% gender pay gap in 2010 across the European Union. They confirm a slight downward trend in recent years, when the figure was around 17% or higher the previous years.
The declining trend in the pay gap can be explained by the impact of the economic downturn on different sectors, whereby sectors dominated by male workers (such as the construction or engineering sector) have seen bigger drops in earnings overall. The change is therefore not generally due to improvements in pay and working conditions for women. At the same time, the share of men working part-time or under less well-paid conditions has increased in recent years.
The Commission wants to support employers in their efforts to tackle the gender pay gap. The Equality Pays Off” project aims to make companies more aware of the “business case” for gender equality and equal pay. With the challenges of demographic change and increasing skill shortages, the initiative aims to provide companies with better access to the labour force potential of women. It includes training activities, events and tools for companies to address the pay gap.  
The project also aims to help reach the Europe 2020 Strategy target of raising the employment rate to 75% – for which greater participation of women in the labour market is essential.
Examples of good practices by companies seeking to tackle the pay gap include:
  • German media firm Axel Springer AG launched the “Chancen:gleich!” (Opportunities:Equal!) programme in 2010 with the objective of increasing the numbers of female managers to 30% of the company’s management within 5-8 years.
  • Kleemann Hellas SA, a Greek lift producer, aims to increase the number of women in sales and technical support, breaking stereotypes and reducing gender segregation. The “Diversity and Gender Equality” project increased female presence in the sales department from 5% in 2004 to 30% in 2012.
  • Lithuanian mobile communications company Omnitel’s project “Creating a family friendly work environment in the company” aims to make work-life balance part of the organisational culture by offering flexible working possibilities to their staff. This has increased the proportion of female managers.
  • IBM Germany’s “German Women’s Leadership Council” seeks to encourage women to take up a career in the IT industry by providing personal and cyber mentoring to students in schools. It also offers mentoring to young colleagues pursuing a management or specialist career.

More information:

‘Tackling the gender pay gap in the European Union’ is a new brochure which explains the gender pay gap, its causes and the benefits of closing it. It also shows examples of national good practices to tackle the gender pay gap. The brochure is available in English but will be available in the 22 EU languages soon.
You can download it here

The gender pay gap website has been updated with the latest developments on equal pay issues. New statistical data and the new brochure are available there. To learn more visit

Linked to the European Equal Pay Day, a Business Forum will be organised on 21 March 2013 in Brussels. The Business Forum will be a platform of knowledge exchange for up to 150 EU companies of actions to foster gender equality. More information about the Business Forum can be found here

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