Bravo, deepfreeze007! You are exactly right: the use of Arbeitgeberinnen does indeed mean that Sie must have the plural meaning in order for the noun/pronoun pair to match in number.
However, the polite/formal form of you (Sie) is used for both singular AND plural. I am amending my answer just above. Still, I applaud your catching that. Great attention to detail and forced me to review, learn, & clarify. Thank you.
Capitalization of the Sie at the beginning of the sentence makes this confusing.
"Sie sind . . . " is either:
- "You [formal/polite singular or formal] are . . . " OR
- "They [plural] are . . . "
- "She is . . . " would be Sie ist . . . , whereas
- "You [plural] are . . . " would be Ihr seid . . . , which is just as 4of92000 wrote and I think SteamWing agreed with. (The order of SteamWing's post vis-a-vis 4of92000 seems to be alternating, which is throwing things off.)
Edit 2014-07-31: After deepfreeze007 noted that Arbeitbegerinnen is plural, I reviewed usage notes re Sie and saw that it is used not only for the polite/formal form of a single "you", but also as the polite/formal form of a plural "you". The upshot is that rulevi was correct: "You [plural] are the employers." is a valid translation.
"Ihr seid . . . " for the informal/familiar plural second person.
"Sie sind . . . " for the formal/polite second person, either plural or single, or for the third person plural.
"Er/Sie/Es ist . . . " for the third person singular (Male/Female/Neuter)
"Du bist . . . " for the second person familiar/informal singular
I thinks this is the reason why German has an edge over other languages. You can break down big words; here, Arbeit = work and geber = giver == employer. And breaking them down makes it easier to remeber. You can use google translate to do that. Just wanted to share this. Try breaking Sehenswürdigkeiten ;)
You mostly hear the term "der Arbeitgeber", which is masculine. I don't see "Arbeitgeberin" so often, which is feminine, but it makes sense if you don't refer to a unspecific company form, but to "die GmbH", "die AG", "die KG", "die OHG" (some German company forms), which are female.
So, yes, "Arbeitgeberinnen" is the feminine plural and is therefore translated to employerS.
The company forms follow the rules (and exceptions) of the German gender system like any other noun. The noun of the company forms I named (die Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, die Aktiengesellschaft, die Kommanditgesellschaft, die Offene Handelsgesellschaft) all end with Gesellschaft. Nouns that end with -schaft are usually female. So this has reason when you learned when to use which gender.
And it should be:
Sie sind . . . is ambiguous. sind is the plural form of "to be", so it indicates/requires a plural subject in the Nominativ case. In the Nominativ, sie is either the third person-plural, or second-person formal/polite.
There's not enough context provided to determine one or the other without the clarification provided by SteamWing; so thank you for that, SteamWing.
"Die Arbeitegeber" is the plural of "the [male] employer" (which is the same noun in singular but takes the article "der"), and "die Arbeitgeberinnen" is the plural of "die Arbeitgeberin", "the [female] employer".
Mind, I'm not exactly sure how these are used, though one of the discussions above mentions that if companies are one of the variants of "die Gesellschaft", a feminine word, that might be a reason why they would be discussed as feminine.
SteamWing discussed this above. But it's probably best to maintain the distinction between "boss", as a manager/supervisor, and "employer", as the person or company who has ultimate authority/responsibility for hiring.
Think of it this way: you and your boss both have the same employer.
Hmm. I wouldn't refer to my line manager as my boss. Of course there's a limit, but in CERTAIN contexts at least, 'the bosses' is always used for the people with responsibility for working conditions. BTW if this was discussed above the discussion seems to have been deleted...
If one works for a small business--and in the US, about 60 million people do--then it is not unusual to refer to the owner/principal of the firm as "employer". It is a little more detached than just using the employer's personal name, but it does acknowledge that one is not employed by some inhuman entity, but rather by Mr. Foofram or Greg or Mrs. Tillbottom.
Similarly, a maid or nurse would quite likely refer to the person (not some abstract business or household) who employs them as "employer".
Incidentally, an "industry" would not likely be called an employer. "Industries" are a collection of businesses and would only rarely collectively employ someone. Perhaps an industry may employ a spokesman or lobbyist, but even then, it would more likely be a trade association--a legal entity formed by the collective members of the industry--which is the actual employer of that representative.