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5 Things Women Need to Do on National Pay Equity Day

5 Things Women Need to Do on National Pay Equity Day

by Frank Roche on April 24, 2007

in Culture, Management, Pay

Today is National Pay Equity Day. The National Committee on Pay Equity writes:

National Pay Equity Day is the day when women and men around the country recognize the wage gap between working women and men, and offer remedies to address pay inequity. According to statistics released in 2006 by the United States Census Bureau, women are paid, on average, 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts are paid — a gap of 23 cents.

I wrote yesterday about HR’s responsiblity to make pay equity an every day thing, not a once a year “I’m shocked, shocked to find out there’s gambling going on here” thing. I think there’s even more to the story, and this is a call to action to women about their pay and actions they should take.

Ask for More. Demand More.
Steve Wilson offered a pretty straightforward reason why there may be an early pay gap between men and women: “[O]ne possible explanation for the gender difference among recent grads is that men simply ask for more money.” Painting with a broad brush, there are significant differences in the way that men and women negotiate.

A First Job Pay Negotiation Scenario
Imagine a pay range for a starting job that goes from $32,000 to $36,000. First, would you offer both a man and woman who was just starting out the same amount, $32K? That’s deep rooted and worth a little introspection on your own. Second, I would gamble to say that men are more likely to ask for more up front. Women are generally (and I realize I’m over-generalizing here) more cooperative. So, the man asks for $34K and since it’s in the range, that’s his starting salary. The woman takes $32K, and all’s right in the world, right? Not even close. There’s a 6% difference right off the bat between $32K and $34K.

The Compounding Effect Widens the Pay Gap
The compounding effect exacerbates the gender pay gap. You can do the math — it’s always better to start with a bigger snowball when you’re thinking about compouding interest (such as the standard 3% annual “merit” increase).

5 Things Women Need to Do On National Pay Equity Day

  1. Understand your pay and pay ranges. Don’t be afraid to ask. Men do.
  2. Don’t take the first offer they give you. Ask questions. Find out about the pay range for the job. It’s ALWAYS to your advantage to start out with a higher salary.
  3. Don’t be a sucker and fall for the “We’ll evaluate your pay in six months” trick. There’s a reason that “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is an axiom. It’s because it’s true. Get your money up front.
  4. Ask about pay equity in your own company. NB: Your company has that information and they have to report it to the government. It’s not a secret and if they’re doing the right thing they should be proud of their data. If they have something to hide, then they should do something about it.
  5. Know that shining light in dark corners is how pay equity is going to be addressed. Silence is complicity. Ask questions. Know that pay equity is right.

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