In the late 90s, armed with all the tips I thought I needed concerning salary negotiation advice, I asked for a pay raise after discovering that the man down the hall with the same job title (and less experience) was making more than I was. So I told my supervisor I needed a raise to compensate for the difference.
“It’s out of my hands,” he said. “I can’t overcome the historic difference.” And that was that. He explained everyone was getting a 5 percent increase that year and because I started lower—even though it was higher than they offered me at first—I would be seeing the same increases as everyone else.
No, it wasn’t fair. But it was not because I was afraid to ask. I was using Take The Lead Power Tool #2 and trying to define my own terms.Biggest myth surrounding wage gap - women are lousy negotiators. Click To Tweet
One of the biggest myths surrounding the wage gap—that is gendered and racial– is that women are lousy negotiators and that they shun salary negotiation advice. Women are too afraid to ask for more money, the story goes, and they fold at the first offer.
Not true, says Robin Marty in Cosmopolitan.
Marty writes: “’Women are forced to toe a fine line between masculine and feminine when it comes to salary, and it seems they’re sort of doomed either way,’ writes Gina Belli at Payscale, a career development and pay negotiation website. “If they don’t ask — too feminine — they end up with lower salaries. If they do negotiate — too masculine — then they’ll be seen as too aggressive, or just plain unlikable.”
She continues: “A 2006 study, referred to as the Bowles study, found that when women negotiate their salaries, both men and women are less likely to want to work with or hire them. This effect was 5.5 times that faced by men who negotiated.”
Still, some women have bigger battles to fight for fair pay, particularly Latina women, according to Erik Sherman writing in Fortune.
What they face is a legacy of wage and salary discrimination based on race. Salary negotiation advice must include the understanding of that fact.
“A new study of Census Bureau data from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) shows that, based on today’s median wage gap, women can expect to lose $430,480 over the course of a 40-year career compared to what the typical white men makes during the same time period. For African American women, that gap grows to $877,480. Latinas, meanwhile, leave a grand total of more than $1 million on the table.”
Sherman writes: “’Our analysis is based on the assumption that the wage gap is steady over the years,’ Emily Martin, NWLC general counsel and vice president for workplace justice, told Fortune. ‘In fact, what you see is that the wage gap gets bigger over the course of a woman’s career.’ Therefore, the estimated gaps likely understate the actual financial impact. ‘[Women] start out making less,’ she said. ‘If you start making a little less and then your raises are based on a percentage of your salary, the gap grows over time.’”
Acknowledging those historic inequities and giving young women the tools to ask for what they need and deserve was part of Kimberly Bryant’s keynote speech at the recent Women Who Lead conference at Florida International University. She moved passed simple salary negotiation advice to acknowledge the need for confidence and overcoming internal obstacles to leadership.
Bryant, CEO and co-founder of Black Girls Code, with the plan to teach 1 million girls of color to code by 2020, said: “We have built grit within the Black Girls Code program so these girls can stand up for themselves when facing injustices in the workplace. We teach confidence and leadership,” she continued, “to make sure they know tangible skills to address biases and the impostor syndrome going into the workforce.”
Also speaking at the conference was Stephanie Paul Doscher, associate director of the Office of Global Learning Initiatives. “It is easy for women to pay more dues in the workplace,” Doscher said, “to stay later than everyone, to close after everyone else has left. It’s okay to stand up for ourselves.” She added, “Even though the pressure seems greater, there is no guideline you need to follow, so there is a lot of space for creativity.”
There was plenty of space for applause in Dallas at the recent Women Presidents Organization’ annual conference, where Nina Vaca, founder of Pinnacle Group, was one of this year’s Fifty Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Businesses.
According to Benzinga, “Since 2010, the Dallas-based firm has seen revenue quadruple and in 2015, Pinnacle Group exceeded $1 billion dollars in gross revenue.”
“We are so proud to be recognized with the other honorees, as they show the real power of women to create iconic brands and products,” said Vaca. “There are over 10.4 million women-owned businesses generating more than $1 trillion dollars in revenue for the United States economy. Women have never had a bigger opportunity to succeed in business and by coming together to support and inspire each other our opportunities will only multiply.”
Like Pinnacle, clearly some businesses and their leadership do the right thing and encourage, support and mentor women while paying them fairly.
Crain’s Chicago Business recently named Chicago’s Best Places To Work For Women. But you do not have to live and work in the Windy City to see the trends here in what makes a company or organization an ideal spot for women to grow into leadership. Crain’s conducted a survey of employees and laid out what makes women feel they will be promoted and that the path to the top is clearly outlined.
Authors Cassie Walker Burke and Sabrina Gasulla write: “Of the 1,000-plus women who took the survey, 42 percent voluntarily left positions within the past five years because they didn’t feel recognized and didn’t see opportunities for advancement. That’s 2 women for every 5 across a breadth of industries who are highly concentrated in management, upper management and the C-suite. ”
The authors continued: “What we heard: The workplaces that are tops clearly define the paths to management and help all employees who show interest climb to the top. They are generous when it comes to benefits and flexibility. Often female employees told us that they appreciate how, at their companies, everyone has a voice and every opinion is considered.”Female employees say how they appreciate when their companies consider their opinions. Click To Tweet
And we guessed this was true. “To be fair, if you compare the Best Places to Work for Women with the 10 companies on our overall Best Places to Work list—a franchise we’ve been producing since 2008—common themes emerge. Certainly men value pay raises and trust and responsibility, too. Everyone likes health benefits packages and clearly articulated visions for where the company is headed.”
Even if you are not at one of the primo spots in Chicago, there are states where women fare better than others.
According to Valentina Zarya in Fortune: “A study by the McKinsey Global Institute found major differences in gender inequality between states. The best, or most equal, tend to be in the Northeast: Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut had among the lowest levels of inequality. The South, on the other hand, fared relatively poorly, with Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi being among of the worst.”
And what if regardless of where you live, you are doing all the right steps in your career, asking the right questions, negotiating for more money and you still are not getting the job offer?
The Muse offers some tips to forgive yourself. My favorite is that sometimes you are better off not getting the job. Something better or more fulfilling will arrive later.