Recent headlines have focused on the differences between the salaries paid to men and women for similar work and the focus has been specifically on working mums.
Even Hollywood’s most successful women cannot escape the gender pay gap, with actresses’ salaries routinely dwarfed by their leading men. It’s been an ongoing story for many years now. A report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies highlighted that working mums are 33% worse off then men by the time their first child is 12 and another report by the Chartered Management Institute found that in the past year 14% of men in management roles were promoted into higher positions compared with 10% of women.
Such stories are often accompanied by calls for legislation to remedy the disparities and we know that the Government is taking measures to force companies with over 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap and bonus data as part of a move to secure real equality for women and further reduce the pay gap. While we do not dispute the presence of sexism in corporate and institutional settings, it is important to point out that many women with some training and encouragement could do better in negotiating employment agreements. The wage gap is not just about the careers that women are choosing; it could be about how they are negotiating compared to their male counterparts although career breaks to have children are also part of story.
Sinead Hasson, MD and founder of recruitment agency Hasson Associates shares some interview tips to working mums who may be thinking of returning to work after a career break and are looking for a new job or who might be returning to work after maternity leave.
1. Carry out some research on the company before you turn up for the interview. Look on LinkedIn to find out who has left the company are a large proportion of leavers women? If so, that might fire a warning.
2. Ask about their equal pay policy at your interview. You would have to phrase the question well and make sure it’s an appropriate time to ask. You could start with “What’s the make up of the senior management team?” If it’s an all-male team then you may want to reconsider working for such a company.
3. If the company promotes fairness and equality then they won’t mind the question about fair pay. You could ask “do you have gender equality on salaries?”
4. Be realistic – find out what the going rate is for the role you are applying for. Remember that some people will have seen a pay rise whilst you have been on maternity leave so do your research on what your position pays now.
5. And to those mums who may take a year or two off for maternity leave you could negotiate with your employer before you take the time off. Over a year or two you could miss a pay rise and therefore miss out. You could negotiate with your employer that you are still entitled to any pay increase whilst on maternity leave.
If you are using a recruiter to source your next role ask them for some tips. They should be aware of the general policy on pay and gender pay at the company you are interviewing with. If you are returning to the same job you could find out what the policy is on pay with your company’s HR department before you tackle the subject with your boss directly.
And remember, don’t be afraid to ask, but don’t demand, either. Know what you’re worth. No one loses a job or a job offer because they ask for something – be enthusiastic, polite, professional and confident during negotiations and you may glean more credibility from taking the initiative and get the salary you’re worth. Are you listening Julia Roberts?
About the Author
Sinead Hasson is MD and founder of recruitment agency Hasson Associates