The pay gap is a serious issue, and it’s important to recognize that it affects women differently. White women have to work until April to equal men’s pay the previous year, but women of color have to work much farther into the year.
As career coaches, a lot of our job is helping prepare people for conversations and negotiations around compensation, promotions, and interviewing, so we asked one of our founding coaches, Jodi Wellman, to give three pieces of advice for women when it comes to negotiating their salary and closing your personal pay gap.
Ratchet up the confidence.
This one is the hardest for most of us, and it’s where we need to psych ourselves up. Chart every amazing thing you’ve done in your career on a big piece of paper or spreadsheet, starting from your first real job. Note the highlights, things you’re proud of, accomplishments, awards, compliments, extra tasks, times you went the extra mile. Read this ad nauseam. Go out with friends you trust who can pat you on the back and cement your foundation of confidence. Believing you’re worth what you are asking for is at the heart of getting paid fairly.
Get clear on the facts.
Take your monstrous page of accomplishments and start to annotate with dollars generated, percentage improvement points over prior year, efficiencies gained, number of people trained or hired, you get the picture. Transitioning the feel-good stuff to hard data is what you will need to arm yourself in your compensation negotiation. Noting that you received top-notch reviews in your last performance appraisal helps. Saying with confidence that you improved profitability 3% over plan, and 12% over prior year, while being in the top three spots in all the regions in the company, is fantastic fact-based ammunition for when you meet with your boss.
Take the emotion out of your compensation discussion.
As much as it makes our blood boil, this has to be a presentation of your value and not an opportunity to vent about $.80 to a dollar kind of inequality (even though that kind of issue is grotesque). This isn’t about how you have been grossly underpaid for seven years. Chances are you didn’t go to bat for yourself in those previous years, so some of that has to be treated like water under the bridge. This conversation is about the value you bring to the table now, with confident, calm, clearheaded proof in discussion points. Sometimes you have to play the game and focus on a strong objective message because we know that women are seen as more emotional regardless of what we do. Let your amazing work do the talking.
If you do all that, and you’re still making less than your male co-workers for truly the same amount and caliber of work, it may be time to move on to a company that takes equality more seriously. There are companies out there setting a strong example for others to follow. Salesforce made headlines and publicly announced that after an analysis of their employees and identifying a gender pay gap, they spent roughly $3 million to correct it.
The pay gap between genders is not an insurmountable problem. We just need to commit to working together to fix it. And we want to work with you to fix it. If you need help preparing for some of those salary conversations/negotiations with your boss, we’re only an email away.
Nora is a co-founder of Happy Spectacular, which she still can't really believe, and she's on a lifelong quest for the world's best cheeseburger (applicants accepted).