Today is equal pay day. Equal Pay Day was started by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to highlight the gap between men and women’s wages. Equal Pay Day is held every April to symbolize how far into the year women need to work to make what men did in the previous year, according to the NCPE. And based on the historical rate of change, the World Economic Forum has estimated that gender pay parity will be reached between 100-257 years from now.
Adding to these dismal figures is that the global pandemic has resulted in more than 3M women leaving the workforce in the past year and some analysts have predicted this may impact the strides women have made by 100 years.
So here we are, the year is 2021 in America, and the thought that women need to work until the end of March to hit equal pay for the previous year is truly unbelievable. Yet here we are. And all these forecasts were pre-pandemic, as we brace ourselves to see what impact that will have on the overall picture of women in the workforce.
Where do we go from here? What can we do?
Certainly, this is something that everyone cares about. No one, regardless of gender takes pride in this situation. Yet, many are not sure what to do or how to move forward. Surely, there is something for everybody to do. Managers, leaders and companies have the ability and power to make changes through transparently and making internal adjustments. That said, some of the most critical work to change the forecast for parity must start with us as women and how we manage our careers. In this very moment in time, factors are playing out that will put many women in the driver’s seat, and it’s time to recognize and take full advantage of the situation. Understanding exactly what’s happening now, and how it benefits us is the first step in moving the needle that will significantly increase our on our compensation.
Your Value Is Recognized
Leaders across all industries recognize that companies with greater gender diversity at all levels simply out perform other companies. As a result, many companies are in full force trying to recruit more women, retain and promote more women to higher levels because they know the value diversity brings to the table and that value translates to better business outcomes. For women, this means your company will do almost anything to retain you and another company will do anything to get you. And that’s called leverage.
Recognizing leverage is the critical first step to driving up compensation. And then, strategically using that leverage to steer your career will result in getting exactly what you want from your career, including increasing your compensation significantly. As I work with women who are looking to drive up their compensation, I often find that many of them don’t recognize their market value and therefore they don’t have the confidence required to aim high regarding compensation. I’ve found that once they recognize their value and that they are in high demand, their level of confidence increases. And with that boost of confidence, it gives then the courage to shop the market for a new position, and when they find it, they use the know upper limits as a guideline for communicating their compensation requirements. Further, many of them, knowing their value are then more comfortable in moving from one position to another more frequently, resulting in significant pay jumps every 2-3 years.
The Future Of Work Has Arrived
The global pandemic has accelerated what many refer to as; ‘The future of work’. For many positions, the pre-pandemic way of working will simply never return. The new normal will be that many of us will work from anywhere. We’ve already seen this as hundreds of companies have closed or minimized their physical footprints. Some of those companies recently announcing the remote workforce are Amazon, American Express, Capital One, Dropbox, Facebook, just to name a few. And many, many more will follow, as will more and more fields of work and positions.
This is significant for so many women that have struggled in the past. Let’s face it, many have had to fit family logistics (school days 7am-3pm) around the office workday (9am-5pm). Some women have said that they simply had to make choices when it came to career versus family because of the logistics. Also, the positions we applied to needed to be within a certain geographical circle so that we can manage to be almost in two places at the same time! Further, many women simply turn down opportunity when it would result in having to pick up and disrupt our families lives.
Now, think about the opportunity at this very moment. With the ‘Future of Work’ here and now, there are tons of positions across many fields and industries where remote work is here to stay. This opens tons of opportunity for so many women that have been stuck in the ‘struggle and juggle’ limiting situation.
So, as women, we need to broaden our thinking on what kind of positions to go after. The world is now placed at our feet for many, and casting our net coast to coast (and maybe even across the globe) is where we should be looking for our next opportunity. And negotiating remote work and the flexibility that comes with that is easier than ever.
Other Opportunities to Increase Compensation
While the time is now and there is leverage to be used based on the recognized value women bring to the table, and the fact that the future of work has arrived, there are several other ways to increase compensation. There are simple tactics that result in increased compensation that are typically employed by men and much less so by women. And as a leader of large organizations and as a manager of many, I’ve personally seen that men manage their careers more aggressively to drive one thing: increasing their level to result in increasing their compensation. That constant push is what often results in their pay surpassing that of their female colleagues. Here are a few tactics that I’ve seen are often employed by far more men than women.
Have a compensation goal and a plan for when that will be reached and then keep that goal front of mind and working to drive to that as quickly as possible. Many often reset that goal when they hit it and set the bar even higher.
- Move to a new, higher paying position every 2-3 years and ensure that position pays at least 20% more than the previous position. It’s really the only way you can radically increase your compensation.
- When an employment offer is delivered, negotiate for more on one or all of the terms and simply get as much as possible.
- Always working the network so that opportunity chases them, and they never have to look for the next opportunity.
- Ensure that their manager knows their market value, often times telling them that they have been approached by a recruiter and/or have been made an offer; but would stay of their compensation was increased.
All these tactics take some finessing if you’re new to this and having a coach or mentor to help guide you along the way is essential.
Summing It Up
We, as women are in the driver’s seat. We can take control and drive up our compensation by knowing our value, understanding leverage, and having the confidence and courage to use that leverage to get the career we want and significantly increasing our compensation.
I don’t know about you, but knowing we have to work until the end of March to make what the guy sitting next to us made at the end of December is not cool. I know what each woman out there must feel the same way and I hope this this blog has inspired each of you to get in the driver’s seat, and steer into the future so that this thing called ‘Equal Pay Day’ becomes history.