How to Eliminate YOUR Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap in the U.S. continues to stand at about 80%. This means that for every $1 earned by men, women earn just 80 cents. Unfortunately, progress in closing the gap for women in the U.S. has stalled and, while the pay gap stands at 79% for white women, women of color have a much, much wider gap.
Why does the gap persist?
Women have distinct financial risks that contribute to the pay gap. We work on average 12 less years than men and less hours, both to take care of family obligations. We undervalue ourselves and fail to negotiate what we are worth. And we have fewer advocates at work, which leads to less promotions and less salary increases. And we have fewer women leaders, as a result of these challenges. All of this leads to less income, less savings, less retirement, and less ability to fund key goals.
So, if that is the landscape for women when it comes to pay, how do we change it? More importantly, how do YOU change that for yourself? Below we share the tips you can take to eliminate your own gender pay gap:
Have a plan for your career
As with any goal, it’s important to have a clear plan for your career path so that you can take calculated steps and get the resources you need to get to where you want to be.
- Think through what you want from your career, where you are now and where you want to go. Identify the resources you need to get you where you want to be. Business coaches can be tremendous assets here.
- Be sure to look at your career not just from a compensation standpoint, but from a quality of life perspective, as well. If flexibility is important to you and will allow you to juggle both family and career, make it a point to have a position that allows for it. This can mean the difference between taking time off to care for others, and staying employed. Remember, time away from work contributes to your pay gap.
- Get the advocates you need to get the promotions you want. Find senior women leaders in your company to act as your sponsor and advocate for you within your company. Or join industry organizations where you can network with peers for mentoring, support, collaboration, and critical relationship building.
Get paid what you are worth
Negotiating for what you are worth, and having successful negotiations, comes down to having the data so you know the playing field, being able to quantify the value you provide the organization, and then putting together a “package” that works for you. Women leave $1 million on the table over the course of our working lives, so use these steps to make sure you get paid what you should.
Decide on your compensation “package.”
Compensation comes in more forms than just salary, so consider negotiating for a package that includes not only salary, but other benefits your company provides that are of value to you. Some common benefits are healthcare coverage, retirement plans and employer matches, Health Savings Accounts, life insurance. But, there are also other benefits that play an important part of your package: equity, education assistance, deferred compensation plans, vacation time, remote work schedules, flexible hours, etc.
Do your homework.
If this a new employer for you, ask directly what the salary ranges are at the company for this role. You are trying to understand where you fit in to the firm’s compensation structure. What is the next step up from this role in the organization? And what are the salary ranges for those positions? Consider talking to employees at the firm. You can also check out websites like Glassdoor and Salary.com for rough ideas of compensation for this firm and its competitors, but you will have more accurate data going directly to the source.
Negotiate for what you are worth.
If you are an existing employee, keep your compensation conversation positive and focused on the following three facts: Your performance this year, how the organization benefits from your work, and the compensation you would like based on the value you are providing the organization. Consider negotiating a “package” of whatever you have determined is important to you. You can also consider negotiating salary reviews, or a bonus. This is not the time to be emotional or to make requests that cannot be backed up with data. You’ll see better results when you can back up your ask with concrete facts and proof of your contributions to the company.
You CAN negotiate away your gender pay gap!
Women most definitely do have financial challenges men do not when it comes to our careers. Knowing these exist is important so that you can take the steps you need to get paid what you are worth.
When you look at the data that shows women earn less than men for comparable jobs, a good portion of this comes down to our lack of asking for what we are worth. This is not new news, so let’s focus on how to better negotiate on our behalf so we can close that gender pay gap.
This guest post was authored by Bridget Venus Grimes
BRIDGET VENUS GRIMES, CFP® is the founder and president of WealthChoice, a firm focused on helping women turn their professional success into financial success, and author of Corner Office Choices: The Executive Woman’s Guide to Financial Freedom. She is also a cofounder of Equita Financial Network, Inc., a network of independent, women-led financial planning firms that share best practices and common goals. As an advisor to top-earning female executives, business owners, and attorneys, Grimes draws on more than a decade of experience to create customized financial solutions that help her clients achieve the life they long for. Based in San Diego, California, she enjoys cooking, entertaining, and spending time on the water in the company of her husband and children. Learn more at www.wealthchoice.com.