Life & Career

Closing the Gender Pay Gap

This is an excerpt from “Mind The Gap — And Close It: The Ellevest Guide to Dominating Your Financial Future,” our guide to closing gender gaps. Psst, you can read it all here.

We’re starting with the gender pay gap because it’s a biggie.

The most widely quoted stat out there is that a woman makes 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. This number portrays a macro view of the gender pay gap, and is subject to many factors outside of gender, such as age, experience level, and industry. For the sake of effecting change, I’m more interested in your personal gender pay gap.

Before you do anything about anything — do not pass go, do not collect $200 — figure out how much you’re worth. There are some great resources to help you do this that can take less time than your morning commute.

Start with Comparably, which provides average salary data specific to your industry, function, and geography in under a minute. Hired.com will show you up-front job offers from potential employers including compensation numbers after you’ve answered a few questions. GetRaised takes you one step further, not just with calculations of your pay gap, but with step-by-step instructions on how to approach your boss to get the best results. I don’t care what you use, one or all three — the first step to getting paid more is identifying a gap between your current salary and your market value.

And I need you to remember that it’s not about last year, or this year, or next year in isolation — it’s about the cost of being underpaid over the course of your career.

So what’s a bad-ass career woman to do?

Once you know what you’re worth and what your bank account’s missing out on, it’s time to take action and get that raise:

Do two things next week:

1. Monday morning, schedule a one-on-one to have the “what does success look like for me?” conversation with your boss.

This should happen now, not six months from now or during your next performance review. That’s because it should take place far enough in advance of your performance review so that you can do something about it.

Ask for that raise! Get your power pose on, be confident, and remember you’re backed by facts of what you are worth.

If at all possible, ask for specific numbers, so that when it comes to review time there’s no room for disagreement. Examples of key performance metrics include how many new clients, completing which project by what deadline, how many hires, what type of customer satisfaction rating, what revenue target, how much in expense cuts, or what type of efficiency improvement. You get the idea.

You should also gain a clear understanding of how (s)he wants to see you develop as a professional — whether it means taking on a greater leadership position, gaining more marketing experience, or starting a new project.

2. Have the “what does success look like, not just for me, but for our business?” conversation with your boss.

Pardon the sports analogy, but this is “skating to where the puck is going to be.” By understanding what success looks like for your department or your business, you can potentially aim your career that way. For example, if it’s all about growing the product that was brought out a few months ago, you can gear your efforts toward that.

This also gives you a record of what success is beforehand, so that your expectations are realistic (no big raises if the department whiffs it) and so you know if (s)he uses that as an excuse later.

On the big review / ask for the raise day:

1. Remember that meeting six months ago where you got on the same page with your boss about metrics and success? (See: “Do two things next week.”) Bring in a record of what you’ve accomplished this year compared to what the two of you agreed mattered.

2. Know how the department or company did in comparison to what your boss told you was important to them.

3. Ask for that raise! Get your power pose on, be confident, and remember you’re backed by facts of what you are worth.

4. If you’re told “no,” don’t retreat. There are lots of things that are worth money that aren’t actual money. Walk away with something.

Here are some ideas for “non-money” perks you may ask for:

  • Have your pay re-evaluated next quarter

  • A new title

  • A coding class or an executive MBA, paid for by the company

  • An overseas assignment

  • A project with the new hotshot senior executive

  • More marketing experience

  • A sabbatical

  • A flexible work arrangement

  • Additional vacation time

  • Mentorship with one of the senior executives at the company

  • Ownership of the next big make-or-break project

Bottom line: ask.

Money is great; believe me, we understand that. There are also other things that are worth a lot — and can lead to maybe even more money later. So don’t just stop at asking for the raise.

Another key point here is you’ve just gotten your boss to say yes to you on something. (S)he sees how great that feels. And so you’ve set the stage for him / her to say yes on the money next time. (I didn’t just make this up. It’s research-based.)

If you’re negotiating for a job:

Congratulations on your new job offer!

Now, whatever offer they gave you, ask for more. You know the guys are doing it. And quit thinking that you’ll raise eyebrows by asking for more. They want you. They just offered you a job! This is the best time to negotiate. They’re used to it, and they expect it.

While you’re at it, negotiate for more than just money. How about repaying your student loan debt? More vacation time? Working from a remote location one day a week? That’s like money in the bank too.

If you have a new boss:

Congratulations, you have a new boss! Or (sometimes), “Ugh, new boss.” Regardless, you’re not quite starting at square one, but it’s definitely a new beginning. And first impressions count...a lot.

So bring your A-game to that first meeting. Listen, listen, listen. Ask her what matters to her and what success means. Tell her the things you’ve already accomplished and how they’ve helped the department — don’t be modest. Talk money after a reasonable period of time. (Hint: first meeting is not a reasonable period of time. Let her settle in.)

And then go kill it.

But why stop there? Download your copy of “Mind The Gap—And Close It: The Ellevest Guide to Dominating Your Financial Future,” and learn how to close other gender money gaps.

Disclosures

The statements contained herein are the opinions of Ellevest. All opinions and views constitute our judgments as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice.

The projections of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.

Information was obtained from third party sources, which we believe to be reliable but not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness.

The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered specific legal, investment or tax advice.

The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person.

Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income.

Investing entails risk including the possible loss of principal and there is no assurance that the investment will provide positive performance over any period of time.

Other Articles