Sweden’s Salary Story

It's official. The Swedes have it when it comes to leading the charge on female pay.

Research this week from Swedish magazine Dagens Samhälle has revealed that female managers and politicians working in local government are earning more than their male counterparts for the first time in history.

Statistics show that the average monthly salary of women working full time in top roles in Sweden's municipalities is now 58,925 kronor ($6,951) a month, compared with 57,925 kronor ($6,833) for men.

Why is this the case? Well, according to Staffan Isling, president of Kommundirektörernas förening, Sweden's organization for leading municipal staff, it is because the majority of new municipal managers being recruited are women. Union rules in Sweden dictate that staff be paid more when workers are promoted to the next grade, and typically a new boss will be paid more than their predecessor anyway.

But could it also be that female managers have become better at negotiating wages? Certainly if more women are being promoted to municipal managers it would imply they are more than competent enough to do so.

The study from Dagens Samhälle is a great example of how women being promoted on merit - rather than because of quotas, which the 30% Club is against - can send some profoundly positive messaging to the rest of the world of the benefits of having more women in senior positions.

It is this same messaging that we strive to promote in the 30% Club, especially as we move into the next leg of our campaign. At the end of 2015 - having reached 26.1% on women on FTSE-100 boards, up from 12.5% in 2010 - we set ourselves a new pipeline target of minimum 30% women on executive committees of FTSE-100 companies by 2020. We believe this target runs in parallel with salary equality and that both are as important as each other.

The key to Sweden, and the rest of the world, continuing with the momentum around gender equality in the workplace is to ensure progress translates to sustainable, meaningful change at every organisational level and throughout society. The salary story from Sweden is a significant milestone for the country, one that should be championed, and we hope to see the success translate across to other societies in the future.