“I’m excited to be offered a new position at my company, but am concerned that I won’t be paid as much as the men in the same roles. What are things I can do to ensure equal pay?” – Claire in Melbourne, Australia
You are a smart, capable, ambitious, and energized woman. Be forewarned: if you don’t get your starting compensation right from the get-go, you may import gender inequality into your position and perpetuate the pay disparity throughout your career. You may ask, “What’s with the festering traditional gender norms of male breadwinners and female caregivers that are still potent and directly influence perception, compensation, and promotions? How does one ensure pay equity with the guy working next to you? What skills will tap into your power and how do you effectively leverage that power?”
Here is my boss chick’s checklist for gender pay equality.
Knowledge is Strength
Establish where your organization stands on compensation transparency. If you are fortunate and work for one of the growing list of companies committed to pay equity, check the box. If your company is not on the list, ask for their gender pay gap analysis report. You may not get it, and even if you do, research compensation for your position; a simple Google search or review on sites such as Glassdoor will provide some solid data.
Knowledge is power, and you need to understand where you stand in relation to your peers. Meet with your co-workers offsite and ask them straight out about their compensation. An open discussion on wages is important for everyone to help and support one another. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ rights to discuss conditions of employment, including pay, regardless of your employer. Build a position of strength from transparency to know your worth.
Insist on Transparency
Transparency is a competitive issue in terms of your company’s ability to attract and retain female talent, your talent. Push your management for an open and transparent conversation about compensation, including explanations on pay differences. Your organization must provide an equal path to leadership positions based on a broad set of corporate values and leadership commitment to supporting an equal workplace.
Transparency equates to fairness, and fairness translates into performance. You want to be a top performer, recognized for your hard work, and move up to leadership roles. Ask yourself, how can you do that if you are working for a company that hides its deep, dark compensation secrets? Unequal compensation is another way of saying they do not value you or your contributions. They don’t deserve your loyalty or talent.
This is about you and your strategy for success based on acquiring skills, experience, performance, qualification, and on-the-job responsibilities. Women have the means to empower themselves. Real rewards await those who choose wisely, so never sell your self short. Work for companies that respect your skills and recognize that diversity directly affects performance.
Be competitive and honestly self-evaluate your job performance, skills, and experience. How does this compare with your research and peers? Take control by learning the needed skills and gaining the confidence to pursue leadership positions. Embrace the challenge to stretch, pivot, and acquire leadership skills exuding tenacity and assurance in the workplace. Doing so will directly impact the perceptions of your peers and supervisors, while also demonstrating your abilities.
Fight for Equal Pay
Consider this statistic from a 2017 Institute for Women’s Research report: achieving equal pay for women would add $512.6 billion to the US economy. To get there, we need to work together. Take on the role of the change agent. Grow your skills and expand your mind. Encourage women through your words and vigorous support. Take action! Vote, rally, contact your representatives, and drive conversation at work and in your industry associations. Be a boss chick and seize every opportunity to grow, be your best self, and achieve pay equality.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.