Gender Pay Gap

By Raphaëlle McAngus 4th November 2016

Are you aware of salary differences between women and men? Even though many things have improved over the years, a pay gap still remains between both genders. And if you start your business in Brussels, you might want to know a few things to avoid any surprises.

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It’s no secret. We all know the existence of this pay gap between women and men which varies from one country to another. Many studies were conducted to understand this gap, such as the University of Michigan Law School which examined this wage gap while matching men and women for possible explanatory factors such as occupation, age, experience, education, childcare, average hours worked and other factors. After accounting for all this, women were paid 81.5% of what men “with similar demographic characteristics, family situations, work hours, and work experience” were paid. Surprised?

Even though efforts were made, we must warn you that the Act of July the 12th 2013 concerns the amendment of legislation on the fight against the pay gap between men and women in Belgium. What does it mean? It means that, as an employer, you are required to establish a detailed analysis report about the structure of remuneration within your business and fill it every two years. The aim being to avoid this pay gap.

Researches were conducted last year and led to some frightening numbers: it appears that there is still a contrast between men and women’s salary according to the DGS, Enquête sur la Structure et la Répartition des Salaires (Survey of the structure and distribution of wages). If some say the gap wage on a monthly salary basis in 2012 in Belgium was down to 7%, some might say the numbers are still too high as there shouldn’t be a gap in the first place. If there is a conflict on why this all begun, some saying it’s due to men negotiating harder their salary during the hiring, other basing their researches on social factors, the problem still remains.

So if you are planning to start your business in Brussels, make sure you have it all in mind. As an employer, you might find yourself walking on egg shells. It might be wise to consider paying your employees, women and men, on the same basis in order to avoid any conflict or drastic problems on a gender level.

On what to base your hiring

By Raphaëlle McAngus 4th November 2016

Almost ready to launch your business but stuck on the next step: hiring? If you are wondering on what to base your hiring, these few tips will come on handy and almost make you an expert on questions such as: What qualities to look for or how to negotiate the salary.

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First thing you would want to do is make a list of the top qualities you are seeking in a candidate accordingly to their future position in your company. Many researches led us to believe you might want a dynamic person in the selling department to deal with clients, fast people for the administrative part as you will not have time to deal with dead-lines, payrolls etc, or you might need a calm and relaxed person in the after-service department to deal with angry customers.

If we deepen the subject, the top qualities you need to look for are meanly linked to the skills and human contact. The way your candidate analyses a situation is crucial. Your employee will have to be able to deal with a situation. Although, bear in mind there are always new skills to acquire. No one knows everything in one go so you might want to be a little indulgent and seek for his or her potential. Regarding the human contact part, it is difficult to say it is more important than skills but if you have a great employee who is very dedicated to the job, the fact that he or she is abhorrent with the other colleagues might affect your staff’s dynamic… and you do not want your other employees to leave one by one.

On the salary level, you might want to ask how much the candidate is willing to accept and be clear that a salary evolution is always possible later on. Usually, candidates understand the difficulties you may encounter when starting your business and are willing to work for a low salary at first. But you must also acknowledge the professional past of your candidate as it is an indicator of his or her reliability. You should also note whereas your candidate arrives early or late to the appointment. Check the attitude, the way they dress-up and don’t forget to ask as much questions as possible about their previous job; you don’t want any bad surprises.

We often hear that the first impression is the best one but you might want to take a step back and sleep on it. But in any case, you should trust your guts. Trusting yourself in hiring the perfectly capable person to do the job is a must.  Now, you are good to go!

Business Etiquette and Cultural Differences

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Being the heart of Europe, it comes to no surprise that Brussels is very culturally diverse. You can find people of many different nationalities speaking different languages. One of the reasons is because the open border policy within the EU helps foreigners come start businesses in Belgium. In addition, Belgium hosts the headquarters of both the European Commission and NATO.

It comes with a great advantage to be aware of different cultural norms to be able to efficiently deal with customers and clients of other countries. Continue reading Business Etiquette and Cultural Differences

Does Your Business Have a Competitive Advantage?

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In one of the previous blogs, we discussed the importance of incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in your company and mentioned that it could be a possible competitive advantage. There can be different types of competitive advantages, but to put simply, it is a way that you can distinguish yourself from your competitors in a positive way that adds additional value to your product.

Ultimately, you want to give your customers a better product and your business more profit. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, then you cannot really stand out as a business. However, if you do have a competitive advantage, you should ask yourself if your competitive advantage is sustainable. Continue reading Does Your Business Have a Competitive Advantage?

The aftermath of a trauma – and how to cope with it

The 22nd of March began as a normal day. For João and Marta, a Portuguese couple that had spent a few days with their families in sunny Lisbon, it was different from the routine, but nothing exceptional; their flight had been rescheduled from Monday to Tuesday, and because of that, they had to run from the airport straight to work. They left the Zaventem premises at 7:40 am.

Twenty minutes later, an event on the same premises would unchain a domino effect that not only disturbed, but traumatized, the whole country. Continue reading The aftermath of a trauma – and how to cope with it

How to prepare your business for the taxes

When you have a small business, the usual practice is to have an accounting service to take care of all relevant paperwork for you, because the intricacies (especially if you’re not that familiarized with it) can be tricky and confusing. But if you want to venture on your own – nothing wrong with that! Who doesn’t appreciate a risk-taker? Continue reading How to prepare your business for the taxes

10 easily avoidable mistakes when creating your online business

Starting an online business is tricky. People usually think that it is fairly easy to do so; after all, there are so many successful ones out there, right? But it’s actually as complicated and troublesome as opening any other kind of business.

The fact that is on the web should be daunting, not encouraging. According to Internet Live Stats, the official regulator of websites around the world (powered by WorldWideWebSize), there are almost a billion active websites in the world right this second – it will reach the billion mark, they estimate, before mid-2016. The mark had already been reached, by the way, in 2015, but a large number of electronic addresses were deactivated and therefore the number took a slight plunge.

Continue reading 10 easily avoidable mistakes when creating your online business

Is Belgium a welcoming country for female entrepreneurs?

There are innumerous prejudices involved in a woman’s world – granted, many of those are changing, albeit stubbornly slowly. In many countries it is not the general rule anymore that women stay at home or stop their careers to take care of children. Salary equality can already be seen in some companies, and industries are not dominated by one gender anymore.

One of the fields where woman started being more and more present in recent years is entrepreneurship. According to research conducted by Inc. magazine, 18% of American startups were founded by a woman, and there are around nine million women-owned companies in the United States (which, despite the big number, represents only 28,8% of all businesses in the North American country).

Continue reading Is Belgium a welcoming country for female entrepreneurs?

Is Belgium a welcoming country?

Given the fact that this is a disturbingly subjective question, the best way to give an impartial answer would be to present some statistics. There is indeed a list out there ranking the most welcoming countries, released by the World Economic Forum on 2013 (done during the two previous years), and not updated since. So maybe reality has changed since then. But based on their results, it is possible to say that yes, Belgium is a welcoming country… just not the most one.

Continue reading Is Belgium a welcoming country?

Ten marketing mistakes you should avoid

Marketing is one of the most important parts of your business – it is, in the long run, what will determine whether you are successful or not. Mistakes are more frequent than not, though, especially among small businesses with equally small budgets. But not having a multibillion-dollar campaign does not mean that you are bound to commit major faults; it’s all in the way you administrate your strategy.

Continue reading Ten marketing mistakes you should avoid