April 20th is Equal Pay Day, and here at the Career Girl Network, we’re celebrating! For too long, women have made less money for the same work. Even in this modern year, women still make 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. But I’m not content to allow us to sit and whine about the problem. Instead, let’s unpack one reason for the disparity and one tactic to overcome it.
What are the reasons women are not equally paid? Someone once said to me, “Men are paid based on potential, women are paid based on performance.” This is absolutely true. I experienced this from a female boss years ago. My supervisor left the company I was with and rather than hiring her replacement, my boss’ boss piled her entire job on me. When I was told of this, I asked for a pay increase and title change due to increased responsibility and accountability. The response was this (and yes, I’m quoting exact words), “Responsibility doesn’t get paid. Results do.” I was lucky that at the end of that year, I did receive a bonus and substantial raise. But at the same time, would a man be willing to do what I did? Take on nearly double the work for no pay? Likely not.
How can we combat unequal pay? There are many ways to change your circumstance to make more money. Negotiate more at the beginning of a contract, prove your value and your worth in the market during performance reviews, etc. etc. etc. But I have another tip you may not have heard and might initially balk at. But here it is: talk to your friends about what they make. Women are categorically adverse to telling friends and colleagues how much money they make. Guess what, ladies? Men aren’t! Men know what their competitors and counterparts take home and they’re not afraid to ask. Because when Bob the stock trader wants a raise, he’s comfortable saying, “I know what Mike makes for the same work, and I know I deserve the same amount.” Of course, you still have to justify your logic based on your work and qualifications, not your colleague’s, but knowing what the standard is at your company, in your industry and for your level is paramount.
If we all take time to think daily about our value and ask for that value when we negotiate, we can (and will) close this gap!