It’s no secret that, on average, women earn less than men — 79 cents for every dollar, according to the most recent data from U.S. Census Bureau. But there's always been a lack of clarity in that well-worn stat. Is it the same work that women are being paid less for, one might wonder?
Unfortunately, in some cases the answer may be yes. A new survey from CareerBuilder reveals 1 in 5 human resource managers admit women at their companies earn less than men for doing the same jobs. Men were also three times as likely to have six-figure salaries; women were twice as likely to earn less than $35,000.
So what should you do if you feel underwhelmed about your compensation?
Ask how compensation is determined
Demand transparency in a non-demanding way.
“You need to understand the problem to figure out the solution,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “So go to your organization’s hiring manager and ask how compensation is determined.”
Your organization should have an answer for you (and if they don’t, this implies that there’s an issue there), then — with that answer in mind — you need to figure out how it’s relevant to you.
Think before you act
If you find out someone with the same title and the same amount of experience is making more than you, again, you need to fully understand the situation so you can recommend a solution. There are reasons (i.e. experience, education and skills) why organizations pay certain amounts to certain people.
In fact, “It’s really uncommon that every person with a particular job title is paid exactly the same,” said Haefner.
Gather your facts
Know what you're worth and prove it. Use sites like Glassdoor and PayScale to figure out what other employers are paying their people with the same skills and experience as you.
"Information is power," says Lee E. Miller, president of NegotiationPlus.com and co-author of "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating: How to Convince, Collaborate, & Create Your Way to Agreement."
"The more you know, and the more you know about the other parties — what they need, what they want, what they’re like — the more effective you’re going to be."
Then come to the table with evidence. Have a list, an actual paper list, of the things you’ve done for the company: the doors you’ve opened, the business you’ve brought in and the money you’ve saved.
“I deserve it” alone is not a reason to get a bump in pay.
Put it all together
Go in for a productive conversation.
“Angry and demanding is not productive,” says Haefner. “But you want to be assertive so you can come back and negotiate.”
Here’s a rough script: “It has come to my attention that there’s the potential to earn more with my position and experience. I'd like to know what I can do to get there. Here’s how I think I fit in and why I deserve the consideration…”
Don’t be afraid to ask for more context either: If and when is the next raise? And over time, is the amount of a person’s raise based off of performance?
Control your fate
“I think it applies for both genders — but women for sure — early in your career, start thinking about how you can control your fate,” says Haefner.
From the very first offer you’re taking, do your research, know the value of the role, and if it’s not the value you deserve, don’t just accept the first offer, ask for more.
"Men are more willing to ask for counter offers, they’re more willing to do the research and say this is what I think I’m worth,” says Haefner. “They might not get the answer they want to hear, but they’re more willing to ask for it.”
--- with Kelly Hultgren