5 ways to combat the gender pay gap for Equal Pay Day
Getting a new job offer is usually a good thing. It means you passed the interview, beat out other candidates, and have a new beginning to look forward to. But before you sign on the dotted line and get ready for your first day, there’s some things you should know about your compensation. The data is in, and ladies, there’s a serious gender pay gap: Women are paid, on average, 20% less than men (and it’s worse for women of color). That’s a big difference. Over a career, it amounts to over $500,000 for the average woman, and up to $1,000,000 for a Hispanic woman. Moreover, even with current progress, it’ll still take another 44 years before we close the pay gap in the United States (and until the 24th century for all women). Angry? We are too. That’s why we assembled a few things you can do about it.
1. Always negotiate
Women are far less likely to negotiate than men are. We get it – negotiating can be uncomfortable, and salary benchmarks can be hard to come by. But since your salary at your next job is often based on your salary at this job, negotiating 20% more now can add up over the course of your career. LeanIn.org assembled a great 4-part video series on how to negotiate your job offer, and it’s a must-watch.
2. Stretch yourself
One of the reasons for the gender pay gap is that women aren’t ascending to high-earning positions. They make up a two-thirds of low-wage jobs, and are underrepresented in leadership roles and higher-paid STEM fields. While there is a wide range of systemic reasons for these discrepancies, one thing women can do is stretch themselves – men apply for jobs that they are 60% qualified for, whereas women typically apply for jobs only when they meet 100% of the qualifications. So next time you’re looking at that job and thinking, “I’ve only done half of these things,” send in that resume and cover letter anyway. Because that’s about right.
3. Celebrate & encourage other women
No one wants to be called a bitch at work. Unfortunately, many of the things women need to do to advance in their careers come with a “likeability penalty.” Women who negotiate and promote themselves are seen as “bossy”, or “too aggressive”, but men who do these same things are viewed as confident and strong. The difference is subtle, and can be hard to identify when it’s happening around you. But there are a few things we can do to help:
- Challenge “bossy”. If you hear a woman being called “bossy”, challenge it and ask for a specific example. Ask yourself and those around you if the reaction would be the same if it were a man.
- Recognize women. Women are less likely to receive credit for their accomplishments when part of a team, and are less likely to call attention to their roles in projects. Make it a habit to call out the accomplishments of the women around you.
- Mentor and sponsor others. Get to know and support your peers – sharing experiences with those at your level can help everyone learn from each other. For those of us in more senior positions, our support, feedback, and influence can help our junior colleagues grow.
4. Challenge employers
Employees are often at a disadvantage when it comes to talking about compensation with their employers. However, several companies are setting powerful examples when it comes to equal pay. Here’s what top companies are doing, and what to be on the lookout for:
- Conduct regular pay audits. Data shows that women are paid less than men for the same work, even when controlling for education, experience, and performance. Companies committed to equal pay will regularly analyze employee compensation to find and correct discrepancies early.
- Encourage transparency about compensation. Leading organizations make available compensation ranges for different roles, as well as the criteria used to establish an employee’s compensation level. Buffer, a social media company, went one step further and publicly released the salary formula for every one of its employees.
- Ensure standard criteria for hiring and promotions. Too often, unconscious gender bias affects hiring and promotion decisions. Companies committed to equality will ensure these decisions are tied to objective criteria, which is also openly discussed with employees and managers.
5. Support legislation on equal pay
The Paycheck Fairness Act is expected to be reintroduced to Congress this week. It’s a follow-up to the Equal Pay Act passed by President Kennedy in 1963, and helps close loopholes that have allowed employers to continue (and defend) unequal compensation practices. Think that’s not enough? Iceland recently introduced legislation that requires employers to prove they are paying men and women equally.