Vestpod’s Top Strategies To Earn More in 2018
What is the gender pay gap?
We’ve all heard the term, but its subtleties are less well known. It doesn’t in fact mean that women doing identical jobs to men are always paid less (although sometimes that’s true, for sure) – it’s more about the overall picture in which women as a population are paid less than the male sector. Which all comes down to women’s roles in family life being seen as detracting from their worth as professionals. Some call it the “motherhood penalty”. After all, there’s no gender pay gap between single, childless men and single, childless women. It’s once mothering comes in to play that women start to command lower salaries… and it’s a vicious cycle, because your salary in a new job is often set with reference to your previous salary. Which for many working mums is less than it could be because they had to take a more flexible or low-impact role to accommodate the unpredictable scheduling of raising young children.
What can you do about it?
Stay single! Don’t have kids! OK, just kidding. You need to learn how to negotiate a higher salary. And the first step is doing a bit of work on yourself. You have to think yourself out of the underdog mentality and start to really believe that you are worth it (as the wise shampoo lady says). And that asking for more money is nothing to be ashamed of. Centuries of gender inequality have left us with a nasty legacy of denigrating demanding woman. Somewhere deep in our psyches, we believe a good woman is a one who never complains; never wants more. We feel it in our relationships and in our daily interactions with the world. How many times have you felt you got shoddy service from a builder, hairdresser or other service provider but thought it best not to say anything? Maybe we tell ourselves that it’s because we’re chill and can’t be bothered, but the truth is more closely bound to the patriarchy’s construction of our feminine identities.
We know it seems impossible to tear down the ancient edifice of patriarchy, but it is absolutely possible to make little changes that will open the door for bigger ones. It’s actually not that hard, once you get started. Once you start speaking those previously taboo words. And what better place to start than the workplace.
Some strategies to try
So, you’ve asked your boss for a meeting to discuss your salary. No doubt you’re feeling slightly sick. Numerous depressing studies show that asking for a pay rise is rarer, harder and less likely to succeed for women than men. This is partly because bosses are often male (another factor in the gender pay gap – the lack of women in top management positions), and however much they might deny it, men are psychological inclined to think more of a man asking for money than a woman. Ladies who want more are seen as too ballsy. Men asking for big bucks are… big bucks. Sucks, doesn’t it.
But there is a way forward! You just have to come armed with indisputable facts and an even temperament. Sure, there are times in life when unleashing your inner angry amazon gets you what you want, but negotiating a salary increase isn’t one of them. Do your research. How much are other workers in the same role paid? What material value are you uniquely positioned to bring to the business (think contacts, experience or special skills)?
And come with a record of any positive feedback you’ve had from colleagues or clients – this will help your case a lot.
It’s also a good idea to talk to headhunters, as they are experts in getting both client and candidate what she wants. And check out Glassdoor for publicly available salary data. Role-playing the difficult conversation with a friend or family member (not a work colleague – duh) can really help too.
One simple hack is to use the word “we” instead of “I” throughout that tricky salary meeting. Hint: this one works well in marital spats too!
Keep talking about money
We all need to get used to talking about money as if it’s just a normal part of adult life - which it is! It really doesn’t need to be laden with emotion. You wouldn’t get tongue-tied and embarrassed talking about a new recipe you want to try, or that cosy winter coat you just bought. You wouldn’t feel shy and grubby talking about your favourite dog breed or the great holiday you just had. So the more you practice making money-talk part of your daily conversational repertoire, the more confident every financial verbal transaction will be. We all know someone, male and female, who swans into a business meeting smiling unapologetically and baldly states what they want. They sound a bit arrogant, don’t they, but they walk out with exactly what they wanted. What they needed. What their family needed. Well, those aren’t bad people. They’re just folk who aren’t ashamed about money; who don’t see wanting more money as a guilty perversion, but rather a perfectly rational approach to getting their share of the cake - and eating it.
It might help to focus on what you want that extra money for. Chances are, it’s to create a healthy, comfortable life full of options and prospects for your family. And that’s a pretty noble reason to go into battle.
So keep the conversation flowing, and remember, most importantly, don’t be put off if you don’t get what you hoped for at that salary meeting. You are going to try again, maybe next year, maybe in your next job. Because every time you try you get stronger, whether you win or lose.