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Coffee Talk

#40 - A mayor’s pay discrimination case: Astrid Siemes-Knoblich

In this week’s Coffee Talk, Henrike speaks with Astrid Siemes-Knoblich. Astrid served as mayor of her town in southwestern Germany. After her term was over, she realized that her predecessor and her successor — who were both men — were paid more than she was.

As Astrid explains, the town council can choose either a high or a low salary bracket for the mayor. This choice should be made based on the job conditions, like the town size and how complicated the town’s projects are. These conditions were the same for Astrid as they were for her predecessor and her successor. Yet the town council put her in the low salary bracket and the other two mayors in the high bracket.

Astrid took her pay discrimination case to court. After two years, she just won the case on March 3.

Astrid says she has been surprised by the support. She estimates that about eighty percent of her fellow townspeople have responded positively to her win. She sees court cases like hers as valuable because they are a way for people to hear about fair pay and see women standing up for themselves. And this can be empowering for other women in the workforce, especially younger ones, who are experiencing pay discrimination. “When we don’t talk about it, then the next generation doesn’t know,” she says.

Astrid hopes her case will make employers think, too. “They should deal transparently with these things. Talk about salaries, talk about compensation, and don’t let it come to the point where people have to go to court. Start earlier!”

Friday Coffee Talk from Planet Fair is a podcast/videocast series co-hosted by PayAnalytics founder Margrét Bjarnadóttir and Henrike Von Platen, founder and CEO of the FPI Fair Pay Innovation Lab in Berlin. It is available through all podcast platforms as well as on YouTube as a videocast.

#48 - Are U.S. Pay Transparency Laws Working?

In our first Coffee Talk after a short summer pause, Dr. David Ryberg Anderson joins Margrét to discuss his recent research into the efficiency of pay transparency laws in the United States. Are employers complying in these States by posting salary ranges with job advertisements? Listen to the Coffee Talk to get the how, why, when, and what.

#47 -  Proactively Monitoring Bias in HR Tools

In this week's coffee talk, Henrike and Margrét followup on questions raised in Episode 46 about the applications of AI in HR. AI can make us faster and more efficient in some ways—speeding manual, tedious tasks, for example—but, if we aren't careful, biases can slip in and catch us off guard. Watch this coffee talk to learn about proactively monitoring AI tools in HR.

View all Coffee Talk episodes