The Gender Pay Gap with Mattel’s Helena Perheentupa

LS International

The Gender Pay Gap is the percentual difference of  hourly pay between genders across levels and functions. This is a different concept to “Equal pay”, which compares pay between genders for doing the same job.

To discuss this particular topic, we’ve invited Helena Perheentupa. Currently Head of Licencing for Mattel DACH, Nordics and Benelux, she’s balanced a successful career with family life, having started at P&G in Finland and working later in Sweden, the Netherlands and now Germany.

In this podcast, we discuss:

  • Changes in the last 20 years that have reduced the Gender Pay Gap.
  • Measures that can be taken to reduce the Gap further
  • Causes of the Gap
  • Helena’s advice on how to bypass the Gap and be successful in business

Daniel: Hi, I’m Daniel Torres Dwyer and welcome to a new edition of LS International’s career success podcast. Today, we are going to talk about the Gender Pay Gap. For this, we’ve invited Helena Peerheentupa, who after starting her career at Procter and Gamble in Finland, is currently Head of Licensing for Mattel for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and Nordics. First of all, I believe it’s relevant to define the concept of Gender Pay Gap, which is the perceptual difference in pay between men and women per hour worked – regardless of their level or function. This is a different concept to equal pay – which compares the pay between genders for doing exactly the same job.
Hi Helena, thank you for being here with us today!

Helena: Thank you for having me.

Daniel: So, today, like I said before, we’re going to speak about the Gender Pay Gap. The Gender Pay Gap between men and women’s earnings for both full and part time work has actually fallen from 27.5% in 1997 to 18.4% in 2017 in the UK. What trend, Helena, have you seen, during your career in the work environment in this time that have potentially favored us?

Helena: Well, first, twenty years is a long time spent and if I look at it in general, I think it’s more socially acceptable for women to strive for different jobs and different higher university degrees and as a result, also in the work space I see more and more women that are simply equipped with higher education across various fields and of course as a result of that, you can have more and more women in the workplace that now can stride and seek the higher paid positions that require these educations and in the past these had been mainly occupied by men and now it’s balancing out. That’s what I would see.

Daniel: And do you think that there’s something that the companies have changed to favor that or is it mainly due to what you say about women’s education and basically, the experience that they have?

Helena: I would say it’s more about the experience that the women now come equipped with it than the companies themselves. Then companies, more and more, in today’s social world is less gender specific in their roles but they do look for experience and the know-how in individuals more.

Daniel: So, since there is still a Gender Pay Gap as we said of 18.4% in the U.K. currently, what other measures can be taken in order to ensure equal opportunities or to basically reduce this Gender Pay Gap?

Helena: Well first I think, you know, we have to be clear about the Gender Pay Gap because it simply compares the average salary of men and women within a company regardless of the position and then such, personally, I don’t see it as a result of discrimination rather than the functions within the company. And I think today, honestly, I do think, that we all have the opportunity regardless of sex to occupy also higher paid positions because we have the same opportunity to get educated and we have the same opportunities to get promoted. What I do think is the big difference is that, just because we can do each other’s jobs and we had the same opportunity, doesn’t mean that as different sexes we are, that will necessarily on average to want to and then I think, this is more the reason for the… for the Gender Pay Gap rather than the gender itself.

Daniel: Well, from what you’re saying, these are limited, the measures, these can be also done by companies like: can companies proactively, have measures to reduce this Pay Gap or do you think that relates more to wider the social facts and strata?

Helena: Well, I think it’s a combination of many things. I think the limitation is more combination of, honestly, biology and the affinty to various fields rather than company specific restrictions. And so, to explain it easier; if you look at two industries, you would look at the aviation industry and on the healthcare industry. I think women, of course, are fully capable of and totally prior to study to become pilots but personally, I would doubt, that in general, there would be the same interest in girls in computer engineering and computer science as there would always be guys. So, you know, these are requirements for becoming a pilot and then, on top of this, the other way around is in the totally socially acceptable for guys to be stewards today. I doubt that there will be a 50/ 50 in stewards going forward. So, this industry will have a very big Gender Pay Gap because of the different sexes. And then, healthcare, is totally the opposite, where I think the whole field of healthcare is very close to all that biological means of females you know, nurturing and caring and so forth. And today, having more and more women graduating from the universities. I think they will occupy the top levels and in hospitals and within the whole sector. But at the same time, it also saying that the females were… well all the women were occupied the nurse position than the male role. So, I think here it’s more of an industry saying that will shit, rather than company specifically or our social pact.

Daniel: And for you, Helena, as somebody that has been a successful executive, that’s climbed the corporate ladder but, at the same time, while going to the maternity and other reasons that could be a common explanation to justifying a Gender Pay Gap. What advice would you give to executives, our listeners, and other women in business in order to be able to not compromise on your maternity, for example, and still be successful in business?

Helena: That’s a big question. I think first very easy advice would be to stand tall and look for people that love to meet expectations you set for yourself rather than people set on you. By default, if you look at something that you really enjoy, you know, you will be better at it and you will be better equipped for the high positions in the company. Regarding maternity leave, it’s a question that often comes up when it comes to Gender Pay. That the one reason why I can see, there will be a time lag is simply because when being on maternity leave because during this time, you’re simply out of the work environment where you gain work experience and such in there will be a lag for you to regain that knowledge in order to continue your work career. Now, that’s all okay and just to acknowledge that, because during this time that you’re out, you developed many, many other things; you develop perseverance and nurturing, stress management for sure and multi – tasking and a lot of patience, which is something that over time then you take back with you to your work environment and just come out stronger. You know, it wouldn’t be fair to assume that the time on maternity leave is consider time when you gain work experience; it’s just a different time. So yeah, I would just say work hard in the field that you like and play fair and you can go anywhere regardless of what gender you have. That’s what I would say.

Daniel: Okay, great. So basically, accepting the facts, taking them on board and being passionate; that would probably be the summary no?

Helena: Absolutely… absolutely. And… and on the equality part of course, totally different. We need to keep pushing for equality. You know, and getting paid same for the same job in the same function and for this, you just need to equip yourself with the data and, really know the bench marks of their industry as functions that are applying for. Which is different but, a 100% thrive for equality is given.

Daniel: Fantastic, well this is really interesting and very useful. So, thanks a lot for being with us today, Helena. It was a real pleasure.

Helena: Well, the pleasure was all mine, Daniel.

Daniel: Fantastic. Thanks to all our listeners of course and look forward to seeing you in our next career podcast.