We see so many articles and stories about the gender pay gap as well as women hitting the glass ceiling. We are seeing many of Hollywood’s actresses shed light on this much-needed topic. Did you know that a survey in 2013, later profiled by CNN money, showed that women overall make 20-30% less than men doing the same exact job? According to combined studies, women still make on average of 7-9% less than men within the same industry.
There are several theories as to why this is happening, including women needing maternity leave when they have a child, staying home with children when they are sick more often than men, jobs being historically “male jobs” that females are getting into, and most notably because women do not ask for what they are worth.
Whatever the inexcusable reason, it needs to stop. I believe the change begins with us women. When Jennifer Lawrence learned that she and another lead female actress earned significantly less than the lead males in a movie in 2013, she said, “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony,” she wrote. “I got mad at myself… I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.”
I have often thought of this as I am negotiating my pay. I recently began making changes in my practice. I was talking to a colleague about a new service I was offering and told him what I was thinking to charge for the service. He laughed at me and told me I was completely undercharging and worth way more than I thought. This vote of confidence reminded me of my training, expertise, and abilities. I deserved to be paid for what I was worth.
So how do we, as women, ask for what we are worth in a world where women still struggle to talk about money and voice their worth in the workplace?
1. Realize that many companies do not just offer a raise.
You need to ask. I know many business owners that believe it is important for an employee to ask for what she needs. “If she does not ask for a raise, why would I do so? I want to maximize my profit, and random raises do not help this.” Or, they say, “If my employee does not ask for a raise, maybe she does not need the money,” among other explanations.
2. Make a list of what you do well in your job and how you have grown the business in your role.
Remind yourself that you are a critical piece to this company and that they need you as much as you need the job. In essence, build your confidence to walk in and ask for what you are worth.
The most notable reason women are paid less? Because women do not ask for what they are worth.
3. Do your homework on what your job should be paid, and what someone of your caliber deserves.
There are many great websites that can show you what the average pay for your job is. Check out websites, such as Glassdoor, Payscale, or Dice, to see what the position is paying. Talk to colleagues at other companies who have a similar role and see what they are making. This will help you figure out if you should have a raise and how much. You never want to overvalue your worth (which most women do not do), but also want to make sure you are being paid what you rightfully should be paid.
4. Prepare yourself for how to handle it if the boss does not give you the raise for which you are asking.
Are you going to accept it and continue working the same job, receiving the same pay? Are you going to look for another opportunity? I have many people ask me if they should have another job lined up “just in case” when asking for a raise. That is a tough call and really dependent on your work environment. Typically, when someone asks for a raise, the person either receives it, is demoted, let go, or maybe just not given the raise. In this case, having another job lined up may be a good idea. It also may help with your negotiations in regard to giving you the confidence you need to maintain your grit to ask for what is rightfully owed to you. However, if the word will get back to your boss that you are job searching and could lead to you being fired from a job you really love, then it might be wise to reconsider this train of thought. Only you know the answer if this is a good choice or not. And if the boss says no to your raise, use your grit to walk out with grace.
5. Finally, when it comes time to ask for that raise, go in with a calm and matter of fact attitude.
Explain what you offer the company, how you have helped grow the business, and what you would like to be paid. One of the difficult things I see with women who negotiate is that they get “emotional” in that they cry or complain about not getting a raise. This negativity can be a turnoff and deter an employer from giving you a raise. Treat it like the business transaction it is. Why? Because the destructive stereotypes of women being emotional and irrational need to stop, and it stops with you proving these negative labels wrong. Listen to what your boss has to say and negotiate your worth. Do not give up too early but also do not nag. Stay calm, firm, and respectful in your communication.
While it can be scary and overwhelming as a woman to ask for a raise, if you do not do it, no one is going to do it for you. You are worthy of being paid fairly and equal to what your position is, and your experience and education bring to the job. As you walk in to do so, remind yourself of Jennifer Lawrence’s wise words to not fail as a negotiator and give up early. Use your grit to say what you need to say and behave with grace because you are a strong, determined lady. And remember, you’ve got this, girl!
Want to read more on a balanced work environment? Start here:
The Truth in the Gender Pay Gap
Why You Should Just Have That Hard Conversation (And How to Do It)
Do You Have to Break the Glass Ceiling to Be Strong?
This is How Two Women at GM are Crushing Stereotypes
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