For the last 26 years, we’ve celebrated Equal Pay Day in March to raise awareness regarding the gender wage gap for women. Although we commonly acknowledge this special day as an equality issue, we can no longer afford to neglect the fact that this is also an economic issue. Economics can be defined as “the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption and transfer of wealth.” Let that sink in for a moment…… transfer of wealth………
Based on the title of a recent CBS.com article “Women are losing thousands of dollars a month due to the gender pay gap. The pandemic may have made it worse” or perhaps your own experience – the celebration of Equal Pay Day has obviously not translated to wealth for women in the workplace and probably will not. I say this because of what I know; not because of what I think.
I spoke with a couple of women (2 separate meetings) and both of them were underpaid. The first woman shared colleagues were earning well over 6 figures for doing the same work while she was earning $45k. The second woman realized men who had the same level of education where she worked were actually being paid more. How did she know? One male in particular just so happened to be her boyfriend! She had more experience than him, yet her salary was significantly lower. I’ve had similar conversations with women for years and unfortunately, I continue to have them.
While employers can definitely accelerate the change women are waiting to see in terms of equal pay, the greatest influencer and predictor of what happens with the wage gap is your willingness to: (1) advocate for yourself (2) exit roles and/or organizations that undervalue you.
Statistically speaking, the latest U.S. Census figures indicate women who work full time are paid (on average) 83% of the typical man’s pay.
- Asian women, the gender pay gap to White men amounts to $3,000 a year and $120,000 over a 40-year career.
- White women, it’s nearly $14,000 less in earnings a year, and more than $555,000 over a 40-year career.
- Black women, it’s more than $24,000 annually and more than $976,000 over a 40-year career.
- Native American women, it’s $27,000 less a year and more than $1 million over 40 years.
- Latina women, it amounts to making nearly $29,000 less a year, and more than $1.1 million less over 40 years.
My question for you is simple. If you’ve selected silence and opted to sit on your ask, what is it costing you? Better yet, how much is it costing you? Here are 5 fast facts according to CBS.com:
- Women are more likely to take career breaks, such as time off to care for family — which leads to White women having just 32 cents for each dollar of wealth a White man has. Black and Latina women have just pennies on the dollar.
- A lack of investments could cost women hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars over their lifetimes.
- Because women live longer and Social Security benefits are based on lifetime earnings, women need to save more. Side note – how can you save what you don’t have?
- More than 50% of women ages 55 to 66 have no personal retirement savings compared to nearly 47% of men.
- For those who have $100,000 or more in personal retirement, women lag behind men 22% to 30%.
Equal Pay Day isn’t one specific day on the calendar, it’s actually every day for women in the workplace. If you’ve made the commitment to positively impact your pay going forward, here are 10 things you should definitely consider:
1. Always use “compensation conversations” to increase your salary (interviews, performance evaluations and promotions).
2. Know the market value of the seat you occupy (complete page 2 from my Career Club resource)
3. Understand your UMV (Unique Marketplace Value) and leverage it to articulate your worth.
I shared the following factors that substantiate your UMV last night in my Get Your Money Honey group:
- Current level of your career (more years of proven experience means you should command a higher salary)
- Education level + licenses and certifications
- How long you’ve been in the industry
- The number of years you’ve been in leadership
- Skillset (i.e., your competitive advantage could be mastery of a technical skill that will take others time to acquire). You’ve worked way too hard to be underpaid; communicate your competitive advantage and get compensated for it.
4. Negotiate salary!! An Indeed.com survey revealed 58% of respondents never or rarely ever negotiated pay. You should negotiate during the hiring process as well as when your job responsibilities expand. When you’re hired, your salary is based on your title as well as the specific duties you’re expected to successfully perform. When your workload increases beyond the scope of your existing job description, your pay should as well.
5. Have conversations with individuals in your industry who are doing the same/similar work as you. One of my clients spoke with someone in her network (who is more senior) and she told my client what she made at every stage of her career. My client would have left $50k on the table had she not spoken with this individual.
6. Ditch The Downplay!! Beginning these money talks with “I don’t know if there’s room in the budget”, “I know you’re busy/I know you don’t have time” or “I don’t know if you’ll consider…” isn’t serving you well. Confidently show up and speak up! (my free Ditch The Downplay course)
7. Ask for the well-deserved raise. Potential verbiage to consider: “My role has expanded this year and I’d like to discuss how my raise will reflect the additional responsibilities.”
8. Inform your leader you’d like to speak with them regarding the trajectory of your career, specifically your goal to get promoted. Potential conversation starter: “I appreciate you meeting with me. I’d like to share some of my recent achievements to discuss my promotion to….” Remember, self-promotion is the key to promotion.
9. Abandon this notion that someone will notice your hard work and reward you for it. Your leader will never know everything you do so you’ll have to: (1) track your achievements, accolades and results (2) share them. Should you select silence, you run the risk of settling. We don’t always get what we ask for; but we always get what we settle for.
10. Surround yourself with support. Bare minimum, you need a mentor, coach and a sponsor at every level of your career. Success is never a solo act; therefore, create the community required to help you experience the success you desire.
Every year we bring awareness to pay inequality by celebrating Equal Pay Day. Although awareness and progress should definitely be applauded, we are still in need of:
- alliances so women don’t have to face this “salary giant” alone
- confidence, courage and clarity to pursue what we deserve
- corporate accountability so women don’t have to ask for what should actually be given.
I’d love to partner with your Women’s ERG or BRG (click here to learn more).