The Icelandic parliament the Althing in Reykjavik. Photo via AP Images.
The Icelandic parliament the Althing in Reykjavik. Photo via AP Images.

Despite having had laws mandating equal pay between the sexes for decades, Iceland’s stubborn gap still hasn’t completely closed. Hence a possible new approach currently being entertained: receipts.


The New York Times reports on the country’s attempts to close the stubborn 14 to 20 percent gap between men and women’s pay. “For decades, we’ve said we’re going to fix this,” said activist Frida Ros Valdimarsdottir. ”But women are still getting lower pay, and that’s insane.” And so the government—which wants to wrap this shit up in the next five years—has decided to introduce legislation that would require companies to provide proof that everything is even-steven.

It would work like so:

The new rules would require the biggest companies and government agencies to undergo audits, starting in 2018, and to obtain a certification of compliance with equal pay rules. Businesses with over 25 employees must comply by 2022.

Employers must assess every job, from cleaner to senior executive, to identify and fix wage gaps of more than 5 percent.


“History has shown that if you want progress, you need to enforce it,” explained social affairs and equality minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson. Truer words, Thorsteinn!

The measures haven’t passed yet, and they face a familiar refrain of complaints about the cost of compliance for small businesses. But a pilot program testing out the auditing process has already inspired interesting conversations where it’s been tried:

Equally disturbing to Ms. Kristjansdottir was that women negotiated lower salaries than men. Generally, men are four times as likely to ask for a raise, and when women ask, they seek 30 percent less on average.

“You’d be sitting there doing the interview, and they’d ask for less,” Ms. Kristjansdottir said. “The audit showed this was a flaw in our recruitment, that we were allowing this to happen and didn’t quite realize it.”

Imagine a company considering whether it might be incumbent upon them to make sure women got paid the same amount as men rather than just walking away with the conclusion that women were bad negotiators.

Senior Editor, Attic Haunter, Jezebel

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