DNB aims to narrow women’s pay gap

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DNB, Norway’s biggest bank, has set aside NOK 17 million to boost the salaries of female employees who are earning less than male colleagues in similar positions. The goal is to eventually eliminate “unreasonable” differences in pay between men and women.

Norway's biggest bank, DNB, is poised to boost the salaries of female employees who are earning less than male colleagues doing the same job. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Norway’s biggest bank, DNB, is poised to boost the salaries of female employees who are earning less than male colleagues doing the same job. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Monday that DNB wants to narrow the pay gap that still exists between many men and women working at the bank.

“We agreed as part of this year’s settlement (with labour organizations) to set up a special pot of money to address the pay differences,” Solveig Hellebust, DNB’s top executive in charge of personnel issues, told DN. The NOK 17 million (USD 2 million) will be used in cases “where the only clarification for pay differences is gender,” Hellebust said.

The latest form of affirmative action in Norway is based, according to Hellebust, on analyses of the pay structure at DNB. The bank found that female employees earned on average 80 percent of what male employees earned. State statistics bureau SSB, meanwhile, has reported that in the private sector overall, women earn 86 percent of what men do.

Part of DNB’s wage settlement
The NOK 17 million that now will be used to boost the salaries of women determined to be underpaid was introduced as part of this year’s wage settlement. Vigdis Mathisen, who represents employees at DNB, told DN that the problem of unequal pay for equal work had been neglected for many years. She’s glad bank executives are taking steps to recognize the pay disparity.

“There is a male-dominated culture (at the bank),” Mathisen said, ” which also applies to the finance industry in general.” There are myriad examples of women with the same education levels and years of experience as those held by male colleagues, but where the women are paid less.

Mathisen readily conceded that the women may not strike hard enough bargains when they’re hired, or seek raises afterwards. “The disparity can occur already in the recruiting process,” Mathisen said. “We must pay more attention and make sure that women and men with similar competence get the same pay when they’re hired. It’s possible women sell themselves too cheaply, but it’s difficult to say.”

Mathisen plans to have talks with bank executives over how the NOK 17 million will be distributed. “It shouldn’t be necessary to have such a pot of money,” she said, “but since we have pay disparity that can’t be explained other than on gender grounds, it’s become necessary.”

‘Historic’ pay disparity
Salaries in the bank span the ranks from those working in DNB’s declining number of branches to the multi-million-kroner salaries of brokers and high-ranking executives. Hellebust declined, however, to go into detail about pay levels in various divisions of the bank.

“There has been historic pay disparity that will now gradually be corrected,” Hellebust said. “We won’t manage to correct all of this within the next year,” she added, but now DNB will have a starting point.

She said pay levels at DNB will also still be tied to performance, while the bank was also working systematically to get more women into top management positions, where two of three leaders are still men. Higher pay will also be used to recruit more talented women.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund