on Twitter, the success of a hashtag against wage inequality

At each societal event its #MeToo. For the past ten days, wages have been at the heart of a major transparency operation on the Internet, through the hashtag #balancetonsalaire (in reference to #balancetonporc which followed #MeToo). Initially launched as an operation to defend Total employees, accused of taking France hostage despite staggering salaries, the hashtag quickly went viral, with around 30,000 tweets recorded since October 13.

Support for Total strikers

In mid-October, in the midst of a refinery strike, the management of Total had decided to reveal in a press release the emoluments of refinery operators: €4,300 gross and €5,000 including bonuses and profit-sharing. When we know that on average private sector employees earn €3,300 gross per month (even less if we are talking about the median salary), the oil company was no doubt hoping for a dissociation of the French from the strike movement.

However, the operation did not have the desired effect. In addition to the endless controversies over the reality of the figures communicated by Total – the CGT evokes salaries 40% lower and the return of the debate on the remuneration of his boss, Patrick Pouyanné, the French remained relatively supportive of the movement.

In the process, thousands of employees from many sectors of activity (caregivers, engineers, gardeners, teachers, etc.) even decided to publish their salaries, to show their support, and also illustrate the gap between the importance of their profession and their remuneration. Like Delphine, nurse, thirty years of seniority, at €2,100 net per month, Benjamin, lecturer, baccalaureate + 8, at €2,500 net per month, or even Amandine, nursing assistant in cancerology, at €1,500 € per month. All convinced of the benefits of pay transparency…

The debate on wage transparency revived

Beyond the controversy around Total, the hashtag or hashtag #balancetonsalaire has revived in France the old debate on the transparency of remuneration in companies. For years, experiments have been multiplying throughout the world to move towards greater transparency, in the hope of reducing the unjustified wage gaps that exist in particular between men and women. In France, women in the private sector still earned 16.5% less than their male counterparts in the same position in 2021 (compared to 14.1% on average in the European Union).

However, most studies show that when countries oblige companies to communicate on wages, this gap is reduced significantly. This was the case in the United Kingdom, with a 15% drop in the gap since 2017 after the introduction of a transparency obligation in companies with more than 250 employees, according to a recent study by the Paris School of Economics.

To explain this phenomenon, an American researcher had shown in 2020 that a significant part of the pay gap between men and women could be explained by the fact that the latter almost systematically asked for lower wages than their counterparts. masculine. If they had access to a median salary in the company, women would feel entitled to ask for higher salaries.

French people overwhelmingly in favor of transparency

What about in France? Since 2018, companies with more than 50 employees have been required to publish a professional equality index based on a rating system based on 5 criteria, including the gender pay gap, or the gender pay gap. promotions and individual increases. But, in the opinion of many observers, this declarative index would not be sufficiently binding and detailed to change practices and mentalities.

Officially, the French say they are ready to go further. In a recent survey, carried out by the Talent job search platform among 1,010 employees, 64% of them said they were comfortable with the idea of ​​communicating their remuneration to their colleagues, 80% considering that the transparency would help reduce unjustified discrepancies.

Beware, however, of collateral effects on team cohesion. Recently, a journalist colleague confided to having communicated a few years ago in a very spontaneous way on his salary. “Some have criticized me for being paid more than them, as if I were responsible for the company’s salary policy”he regrets today.

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