Congratulations – You’ve been offered your dream job! You nailed the interviews with your typical charm at a highly desirable company. The recruiter offers you an annual salary is you feel is fair, and more than you make at your current job. You enthusiastically accept!
As you closely review the formal job offer letter, you notice that there is a clause that you will work the first 57 business days of your employment without payment. Your annual salary will be payable over the remaining nine months of the year. WHAT? You would never agree to work nearly three full months of every year at no pay! What initially seemed to be fair offer is now simply appalling.
Reality check. If you’re a woman, and you’ve never asked for a raise or negotiated your salary upon hire, you are likely working the equivalent of three unpaid months out of every year while your male counterpart enjoys nearly 20% more in earnings. This problem has a name – the gender pay gap. While the exact pay gap ranges differ based on the research study, the U.S. Census Bureau identifies that women still only earn 79% of what men earn. In fact, April 12, 2016 is equal pay day. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. No woman would ever accept a job offer so blatantly structured like this, so why are we tolerating it today?
Before you walk into your boss’ office and demand you be paid three months salary, let’s talk a look at some underlying beliefs and actions that perpetuate the problem. Luckily, these are all in your control– and BELIEF and confidence in your value is where the solution begins to the gender pay gap problem.
- You’re not applying for jobs your fully capable of doing.
A study published via a research at Hewlett-Packard found that women tend not to apply for jobs unless they feel they possess each of the listed qualifications, while men will feel confident about their application matching just 60%. The result of this thinking is that men will more readily apply to roles that have a higher salary, because he’ll have the confidence despite not meeting all of the job criteria. Women will find roles they feel 100% qualified for, which can tend to come in at a lower salary band – thus, widening the compensation divide. Additionally, if they do apply for the same, higher-level job, they tend to possess the belief that they aren’t meeting 100% of the job criteria or experience, thus they’ll rationalize a lower salary offer instead of one based on fair market demand or the value they’ll bring to the company.
- You’re not negotiating your salary
In the story above, you accepted an offer at face value without negotiating. How often have you done this, simply because it was an increase over your current pay? One of the core reasons a gap exists is because women do not take the initiative to negotiate their salary, putting them at an immediate salary disadvantage to their male peers. According to a study by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, male graduates from Carnegie Mellon University had starting salaries of 7.6% higher than women. While the initial salary offer was similar, men (57%) negotiated their salary offer as compared to 7% of the women. Additionally, men initiate salary conversations FOUR times more often as women, and when women do negotiate, they ask for 30% less than their male counterpart.
Believe in your value! You can build your case by:
- Researching salary data points via websites like PayScale.com, Getraised.com and your state BLS Wage system (neblswages.nwd.ne.gov).
- Keeping a career journal that lists your career/education successes, examples and outcomes that add value to the workplace. Give yourself credit here for small and large projects (your male co-workers are). Plus, tracking your accomplishments builds confidence and courage.
- Being confident to present the facts, showing what you can contribute and asking for what your worth! You are NOT being greedy or pushy if done tactfully and with an honest assessment of what you contribute to help your company succeed.
- You talk yourself out of challenging assignments
Women spend far too much time weaving themselves into a pit of despair with endless cycles of useless rumination over our past missteps and mistakes. We can easily list 10 reasons in our head why we shouldn’t take on a new challenge that could result in a promotion, bonus or additional income. Instead, refocus your energy on three ways you would contribute value, and let that fuel your actions. Men tend to have no problem assuming the risk and jumping right in. I hear many of my friends agitatingly joke that their husbands act before they think, shrug off the consequences of their hasty behavior, and pick up and move on like nothing happened. Maybe in terms of our careers, we should copy his behavior we love to criticize so much. It’s proven: The more action you can take with a focus on forgiving yourself of the hurdles you trip along the way, the higher your confidence builds. Small wins accumulate into big confidence snowball.
Guys, Why Should You Care About This?
Retirement Income and Family Sustainability
The pay gap divide doesn’t just impact you today – it impacts the ongoing ability to provide for your family and at retirement. Imagine the additional financial freedom and family opportunities realized if your wife received a 20% raise?
Additionally, a study by Money Magazine revealed that women’s retirement savings balances are 50% less than men’s – even though they even save at a higher percentage of income! Compound that balance over a career lifetime and the result is a woman having a longer lifespan on a smaller income (you don’t want her to have to move back in with the kids, do you? 😉 ). Correspondingly, because a woman tends to make less, it means that if her company offers a matching 401k retirement program, her company funded match is less than a man’s. Simply stated, men get a higher amount of free matching money than women.
Retaining Top Talent Makes You More Money, Too.
If you are a manager or are running a business, equal pay is critical to keeping a highly talented workforce. In fact, a study by DDI and The Conference Board showed that high-performing organizations have twice as many women leaders than low performing organizations (37% vs 19%). A high performing organization impacts everyone’s bonus opportunities.
Since women comprise over half of the workforce, fair compensation and opportunities are a must for business sustainability. Equal pay and opportunities, and the advocacy for them, is a great way to make your teams or business a talent magnet. And better talent equals better business outcomes, which likely translates into more money for you, too.
Ladies AND guys – feeling motivated by all of this information but too intimidated to ask? Practice first by asking for smaller wants in your life – like being firm on a car negotiation. Renegotiate your cable bill or secure a better pricing discount with a vendor at work. In his book, Give and Take, Adam Grant writes that when we start to act on small behaviors in the direction we want, it gives us confidence and promotes a self-fulfilling prophecy and belief we are successful at that skill – which encourages more action. When we realize small wins from negotiating – we are likely to continue to negotiate. Finding a career mentor can also be an invaluable step to helping you practice your negotiation skills, confidence, and value. Check out www.icanglobal.net for a wide range of career building opportunities.
Take the first step – March 8 is International Women’s Day. Make the #pledgeforparity and see how companies, men, women and families all win when they advocate for equal opportunities.
Follow the conversation socially at #genderpaygap . Most importantly, advocate for yourself – Stay tuned to CTMomaha.com on opportunities to take ownership of your career and your income!