The Toolbox for Asymmetrical Pay

De Toolbox for Asymmetrical Pay helpt je om een open gesprek te voeren over een alternatieve verdeling van het beschikbare budget, afgestemd op de specifieke situatie van elke betrokkene.
Naast de officiële loonbarema’s en het principe equal pay komen dus ook andere parameters ter sprake, zoals specifieke voorrechten of noden. Het niet-gelijke loon dat daaruit voortvloeit, compenseert structurele ongelijkheden.

Try out the Toolbox for Asymmetrical Pay (in English)

Viusal artist Laura Oriol, dancer and performer Justine Maxelon and game designer Camille Soual developed a tool to raise awareness about financial and other differences in your group. It also helps to open a dialogue on how to divide the available budget according to these needs, based on an alternative understanding of fair pay as ‘earn what you need’.

Lees ook de tekst Earn what you need: een pleidooi voor ongelijk loon

Het concept ‘Earn what you need’ maakt van ongelijk loon een erezaak om structurele ongelijkheid en zelfs privileges te compenseren. Het baseert rechtvaardigheid niet op het eigenlijke werk, maar op de verschillende situaties van mensen. Het begrijpt verloning als herverdeling en verruimt collegialiteit tot solidariteit. Het vertrekt niet vanuit het individuele ‘meer’, maar vanuit een collectief ‘voldoende’. ‘Fair’ wordt dan: niet iedereen hetzelfde, maar iedereen genoeg. Lees meer.

Who are we?

We are a group of people (artists and other professions) who gathered through the project Common Income supported by Flanders Arts Institute, aiming to research and to experiment different ways of sharing income among (not only) artists. 

In this research and brainstorm process we used most principles of ‘asymmetrical pay’ ourselves: instead of paying all of us a fixed amount per day, we started an open and transparent discussion on the (different) fee that everyone would need. 

Why this tool? 

We believe in an alternative idea of fair payment. The current idea of “equal pay according to invested time” has value, but we think that under fair pay it might be possible to imagine a redistribution of wealth as well.

We believe we can move from equality to equity and envision a system in which we are paid according to what we need to live. We want to conceive a payment process that acknowledges the absence of equal opportunities among people. Indeed, we are born in different families, socio-economic classes, countries, with different access to education, wealth, support… as a result of having diverse backgrounds. 

Who is this tool for? 

  • “Asymmetrical” Pay is imagined for a group of artists and cultural workers who are working on a project, who receive funding and who ask themselves: how will we distribute the money? 
  • To make things simpler, we assume everyone will work similar hours no matter the tasks involved.
  • As a prerequisite for this tool, all members of this group must desire to experiment with an alternative fair pay method and must desire to challenge their ideologies and conditionings around money and work. 

Please keep in mind… This tool proposal is a work in progress that is still in its conceptual stages and thus needs to be tested, practised, rooted in more realities, torn apart and reconstructed. We are aware that we are only a few people working on this with limited experiences and many many blind spots. We see it as an experiment and we invite those who engage with it to treat it as such. We began imagining it for a very specific context and hope it can be expanded and adapted to more working environments. 

It is actually three tools in one!

  • Tool 1 aims to reveal that we are not born equal and hopes that an awareness of this can make the group more sensitive to the varied realities we are a part of.
  • Tool 2 aims to bring awareness to each person’s financial situation, what they earn, what they spend it on and if and how much they can save each month.
  • Tool 3 is a proposal for a conversation that will lead to making the decision of how to divide the funding, what is a fair pay for each person? (still in construction)

Tool 1: a privilege ‘walk’

This tool, inspired by ‘the Privilege Walk’, aims to bring awareness to one’s own privileges or lack of privileges in the socio-cultural class we grew up in or are presently part of. 

Our desire with this tool is to make visible the socio-economic inequalities that exist between people and perhaps begin to deconstruct the myth of meritocracy (that your wealth only depends on the merit of your work and your competitiveness within the labour market).

The invitation is not to resolve these inequalities nor to make anyone feel guilty or righteous. 

We hope that the participants of this walk become more aware of the complex social realities that coexist and begin to talk about it. At the end of this walk, financial inequalities in the group become visual for all participants. (Meanwhile, we are also developing an online tool with similar questions that gives you a score for yourself, as a starting point for the discussion in tool 3.)

In a fairly large room (depending how many people there are), stand in one line. One person reads the questions out loud.

  1. If you can physically access all spaces without support, take a step forward.
  2. If you are financially supporting children, take a step back.
  3. If you are sending money to family or friends abroad or in this country, take a step back.
  4. If you do a lot of underpaid or unrecognised labour, take a step back.
  5. If it is easy for you to find a job when you need it, take a step forward.
  6. If you have the right to paid holidays, take a step forward.
  7. If you can afford to say no to an underpaid job, take a step forward.
  8. If you are able to show or present your work, take a step forward.
  9. If you have to trick legal ways of payment in Belgium in order to survive, take a step back.
  10. If you have the artiste statute, take a step forward.
  11. If you have access to social security, take a step forward.
  12. If you are not worried about your pension, take a step forward.
  13. If inheritance will help you to cover costs for old age, take a step forward.
  14. If your health and physical abilities allow you to work full-time, take a step forward.
  15. If you feel comfortable walking home alone at night, take one step forward.
  16. If you fear being discriminated against at a job because of your skin colour, take a step back.
  17. If you get misgendered regularly, stake a step back.
  18. If there were more than 50 books in your house growing up, take a step forward.
  19. If you feel confident that your parents and/or friend would be able to financially help/support you if you were going through a financial hardship, take one step forward.
  20. If you came from a supportive family environment, take one step forward.
  21. If you work full time and feel it doesn’t impact your (physical and mental) health, take a step forward.
  22. If you have a support system (health care and network) which would allow you to have a burn out, take a step forward.
  23. If you or your parents have ever gone through a divorce, take one step back.
  24. If you have ever been bullied or made fun of based on something that you can’t change, take one step back.
  25. If you have a legal status in this country, take a step forward.
  26. If you have high bills due to medical needs, take a step back.
  27. If the primary language spoken in your household growing up was not French or Dutch, take one step back.
  28. If you need to think of getting a travel visa to get to another country, take a step back.
  29. If you had trouble learning in school because the pedagogy was not adapted to how your brain works, take a step back.
  30. If you own property, take a step forward.
  31. If you live in a colocation to be able to pay for your rent, take a step back.
  32. If you were embarrassed about your clothes or house while growing up, take one step back.
  33. If you had a job during university years, take one step back.
  34. If you don’t get time off for your religious holidays, take one step back.
  35. If you can make mistakes and not have people attribute your behaviour to flaws in your racial/gender group, take one step forward. 
  36. If you would never think twice about calling the police when trouble occurs, take one step forward.
  37. If you lower the temperature in your house due to energy costs, take a step back.
  38. If you travel in Europe on holidays and you are ready to take a train earlier than 8am to get a cheaper ticket, take a step back.
  39. If you are afraid to open envelopes that look like bills, take a step back.
  40. If you have ever felt like there was NOT adequate or accurate representation of your racial group, sexual orientation group, gender group, and/or disability group in the media, take one step back.

Tool 2: financial check-in

Here the invitation is to check-in on your financial situation. Decide together how transparent you wish to be and how much privacy you wish to preserve. 

  1. Take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line in the middle. On one side you have your monthly expenses and on the other your monthly income.
  2. Write all of your income and where it comes from.
  3. Write all of your expenses (food, rent, gas/electricity bills, healthcare, transport, leisure activities, going out, clothes/shopping, loans/mortgages, money you give to friends or family, child related expenses, insurances, house maintenance, luxuries/non-essential items etc.). Note: If you wish to preserve more privacy take broad categories)
  4. Add everything up and see how much can or cannot save each month. 
  5. Present your monthly finances to the group. Depending on the amount of participants and on the available time, you can set some arrangements for this last part. For example, everyone gets 3 minutes to speak and you can either ‘name the 5 most decisive elements of your finances’ or ‘share your results and how you might hope your finances to be in the future’. 

Tool 3: score for a conversation before you decide how much to pay who?

The last step in the Asymmetrical Pay process is a conversation which will support making a decision on how the project funding dedicated to fees will be distributed among the group.

Here is a list of questions you can discuss to process the 2 previous tools:

  • How do you feel with all this new information right now?
  • What did you learn that is valuable to you?
  • Does anything feel uncomfortable or scary?
  • What has changed in you since the beginning of the exercise?
  • How is your idea of ‘fair pay’ affected?

Before you start the actual dialogue on the numbers, we suggest you do a round where each person can express his/her/their opinions and personal needs without being interrupted: 

  • What could be a fair payment of ‘earn what you need’ within this group? 
  • What could be a fair payment of ‘earn what you need’ for your individual (financial) situation?
  1. Divide the total salary budget by the amount of people involved equally. Then calculate the fee for 1 day.
  2. Everyone writes this amount on a piece of paper. Next to it, write the day fee you feel corresponds to your needs. Please try to be as sincere and non-judgemental towards yourself and others as you can.
  3. Add up these personal day fees. Are you still within your budget? If there’s extra, divide it equally or use it for something else. Are you over budget? Calculate the amount you are over and divide it equally to take it out from each day fee.
  4. Check how everyone is feeling with the final decision and reopen the discussion if necessary.

A Fair New Idea?!

We lanceerden vier open oproepen voor projectvoorstellen die bijdragen aan een sterk, eerlijk en duurzaam kunstveld. Bekijk de resultaten en ontwikkelingen.

A Fair New World?!

Hoe kunnen we toewerken naar een meer inclusieve, duurzame en solidaire kunstwereld?! Tijdens het A Fair New World?! traject (2020-2022) verzamelden we ideeën, praktijken en instrumenten die mogelijke oplossingen bieden.

Je leest: The Toolbox for Asymmetrical Pay