Three Ways You Can Help Close the Gender Pay Gap

When women and men with the same level of experience, doing the same job at the same level of performance, are paid differently, a gender pay gap exists. Where I live, in Switzerland, the pay gap in 2017 is 15%  – despite the fact that it’s against Swiss law!  The US pay gap is  about 20%. That means that American women are paid the same for 8 hours of work that men are paid for 10 hours; they work 2 hours in every 10 for free. In some countries, it’s even worse.

The gender pay gap increases with age, too. Women make about 90% of what men do until about age 35; then the gap starts to widen.

Clearly something is wrong. What does my gender have to do with my performance as a coder, marketer, or sales rep? Nothing! The pay gap reflects the historical underappreciation of women in the workforce. It’s time to close it, and you can help.

womens-march-resistance pixy

Ask for What You Deserve

When negotiating your salary or a raise, base your proposal on facts. Use glassdoor and to find out what a particular job pays in your area. If you’re offered a salary below that range, use that data to explain that the job is worth more. Focus on facts, accomplishments, and what you have delivered, not how hard you work or how devoted you are. A recent survey from Ellevate found that 75% of women who asked for a raise in pay got one. So ask!

“As a young woman, asking for the salary you deserve when recruited for your first job is key! A difference of in your salary of $100/month compared to your male colleague will amount to $120’000 after 10 years of work”

Support Equal Pay Initiatives at Your Workplace

Most companies realize that the gender pay gap is a problem. But if no one pushes them to fix it, why would they spend the money?  Ask your HR team, women’s Employee Resource Groups, or a member of management what’s being done to measure and close the office gender pay gap. If there is an initiative underway, give positive feedback and ask if there is anything you can do to help (there may not be, but it’s the offer that counts).

Find out about groups like EQUAL-SALARY, a not for profit organization that helps companies close their gender pay gap through a certification process conducted by external partners like PwC. The World Economic Forum and Philip Morris are EQUAL-SALARY certified; they know it’s important for attracting the top talent and for Good Governance.

If you are a manager, tell your HR partner that you want to review your team’s salaries based on gender as well as years of experience, performance rating and other measures. If you see a pay gap in your own team, find a way to fix it.  Encourage your peers to do the same in their teams.

Support Public Awareness Campaigns

Equal Pay Day

Red Bags for Equal Pay Day

Think tanks, consultants and social profit groups are all working to raise awareness. From Catalyst reports to BPW International’s global Equal Pay Day initiative, women and men are working to call out the gap and close it. Find out when the next Equal Pay Day is in your country; in the US it’s April 4 2017. On that day, wear red, carry a red Equal Pay Day bag, organize or attend a talk, or bring up the topic at work.

Véronique Goy Veenhuys, Founder & CEO EQUAL-SALARY Foundation is passionate about closing the gap. “As a young woman, asking for the salary you deserve when recruited for your first job is key! A difference of in your salary of $100/month compared to your male colleague will amount to $120’000 after 10 years of work. This doesn’t take into account salary raises and other benefits which would only make the gap bigger! Making sure you have equal pay impacts your quality of life, your family, your old age.”

Your Actions Matter

Veronique continues: “Each of us has the power to make a difference by talking to professional associations, board members, political leaders, and using social media. Be an EQUAL-SALARY ambassador.  Engage companies to check they have equal pay for women and men” See Veronique’s Tedx Talk “Brave Men for Equal Pay to learn more.

Closing the gender pay gap is the right thing to do, helps retain top female talent, and is long overdue. Will you do your part this year?

Marne Platt

Dr. Marne Platt is the President of Fundamental Capabilities and the author of 3 books (so far): Living Singlish: Your Life, Your Way; Professional Presence; and PREP For Success. Originally a practicing veterinarian, she built a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. She founded Fundamental Capabilities to ‘pay it forward’ by providing career development workshops and coaching for women. ‘Living Singlish: Your Life, Your Way’ is an ‘older sister in your pocket’ packed full of advice for young women on building their own independent and exciting life. 'Professional Presence' and PREP For Success' help you strengthen your spoken and unspoken communication and leadership presence.

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