Today is ‘Equal Pay Day’, which marks the number of extra days the average woman has to work in a year to earn as much as their male colleagues. Statistics show that the gender pay gap is getting worse, with women working three more days for free than last year, says Ishreen Bradley, Executive Coach.
Women working full-time still earn £5200 (15.7%) less per year on average than their male colleagues four decades after the Equal Pay Act outlawed less favourable pay and conditions in the workplace for women.
Often women struggle with the confidence to ask for a pay rise, whereas men don’t. Women don’t want to be seen to be too demanding and some may even be fearful that doing so could threaten their career prospects. Yet failing to speak up could be costing them several hundred thousand pounds over their careers.
Negotiating pay is expected at work and also a respected quality in a member of staff. Discussing a salary rise gives someone the opportunity to highlight how they are contributing to the business and the skills they have, something in large organisations many managers will not necessarily notice unless they are told.
Women need to highlight their strengths in the workplace and do their own PR, something that can come more easily to men than women. But most importantly, they need to take responsibility for what they are paid and think about what action can be taken to close the gap and to be paid the same as men for the same jobs.
Ten tips to help women ensure they are paid what they are worth
1. Fully understand the value of your job – understanding the core responsibilities, requirements and expectations of your job and how it contributes to the wider business will support any salary review discussion.
2. Research – build a network of trusted colleagues who contribute insights on critical issues that need to be resolved including the sort of pay that you should be earning. It’s important to find out what other people doing your kind of job are earning in your region and specialism. Knowledge is power as they say.
3. Distinguish your worth – conduct a SWOT on yourself to fully understand your main strengths, weaknesses, opportunities you can benefit from and threats you can convert to opportunities. Build a network of well-connected head hunters who let you know about what else matches your skills and value and what that would be worth – rather than avoid their calls as a drain on your time. Once you know what you are worth, you are less likely to feel greedy, selfish, unseemly or petty when asking for your pay rise.
4. Create your value proposition – understand your worth to the organisation, your manager and your team – find out what is important to them and what they are dealing with. Think about how you can support them and add value.
5. Prepare your heart and mind as well as your logical case – develop the ability to be your authentic self when making the request. Often people experience a state change when they do something that is a bit scary. It is almost like a monster takes control of their body – or the diva comes out. Learn to master the ‘Diva’ within so that she works for you and not against you.
6. Practice your pitch – practice with a friend who reminds you of the person you are planning to negotiate with and role-play the different ways the conversation could go. It’s always useful to record these practice sessions and repeat until you have control of the diva/monster.
7. Plan and implement powerfully – make sure you know what salary and package would represent your worth based on your value proposition and think about what else would represent that worth to your manager, team and organisation. Write down a minimum and ‘breakthrough’ value and package so that you have a range from which to negotiate.
8. Timing is everything – ensure you make your request at the right time. Don’t discuss pay / promotion until an offer is made to you or there is an opportune moment. This may be at an annual performance review or ONCE you have been offered a job (not before) – or when you see a sudden demand for your skills in the market. Don’t disclose how much you want – ask them what your value proposition would be worth and explore / negotiate from there.
9. Use the power of silence – it’s important not to commit to a pay rise offer too early. Negotiation is all about pacing, so be prepared to take some time to think about what is being offered before responding, whether it’s what you wanted or way off the mark.
10. Live in abundance, choose powerfully and be open – you may not get a yes the first time round, but don’t relate to this as a failure or a no. Think about what you can learn from it. What can you create that works for both you and ‘them’ and what are your other options?