If we can’t get our elected officials to help us close the gender based wage gap, we’ll have to do it ourselves.
On Monday, the Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, yet again. The bill needed 60 votes but fell short 52-40 with every Democrat voting aye and every Republican voting no. Two independent Senators split their votes. This is the second time the bill has failed to pass this year.
Pile of coins, Shutterstock
Fair pay is not a political issue. It’s a matter of equity and economics. A record number of households are supported by breadwinning mothers. While the work world may discount these women’s paychecks, the real world doesn’t discount their groceries, medical bills, mortgages or rent payments. But if they earn just .77 cents for every dollar a man earns, then the current wage gap costs these women, on average, $10,000 per year in lost wages.
Surely we’ll try again on the political front, but in the meantime women should do everything they can on the personal front to close the gap.
Here are a few ways to close your personal wage gap
- Learn to negotiate. We know women are frequently offered lower starting salaries than men. And a gap at the start of your job or career is going to increase because your raises and bonuses are usually set from your base salary. So learn to negotiate during the initial offer and at every compensation discussion that follows.
- Take flex as a perk not a payment. Many of the women featured in Mogul, Mom & Maid were shorted on pay because they took advantage of flex benefits. Ask for flex options like a work from home day or a late start outside of your salary review meeting. Flex shouldn’t be considered compensation if you’re merely asking to work somewhere else or off hours.
- Increase your fees by 25 percent. Are you a consultant or sole proprietor? Adjust for the wage gap when setting your fees. If you normally charge $100 hour, start charging $125. A male competitor is asking for that and probably more.
- Guard your salary history. Katie Donovan of Equal Pay Negotiations LLC, cautions women that job offers are often 10 percent higher than a candidate’s desired salary or salary range. If you share your current salary too early in the process and you’re underpaid, that can hurt not only your future earnings but also a hiring manager’s perception of your value.
- Document everything-good and bad. To prepare yourself for a compensation discussion, you want to have all of the facts. Keep a log of your accomplishments so you’re prepared to discuss the value you bring to an organization at any time. Likewise, if like me, you overhear a salary negotiation through a thin office wall someday, and your male colleague with fewer direct reports and a smaller operating budget is offered $20,000 more than you’re making, document that too – date and details.
- Have tough conversations with your parents now. We know women often suffer a “mommy penalty” at work; the wage gap is between mothers and non-mothers is greater than between women and men. But did you know, women are also at risk for lost wages during the caregiving years? According to a study conducted by MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving, women lose an estimated $324,044 in wages due to caregiving. Talk to your aging parents and relatives now, about how you will manage their care and end of life. Having a plan will help relieve some of the stress on you, and your paycheck.
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