Thursday 18 November 2021 is Equal Pay Day, which signifies the day in the year that women effectively stop earning, relative to men. Or put another way, in comparison to the average man on a full-time salary, the average woman will work the rest of the year for free.
There are several reasons for continuing pay inequality. Pay discrimination, the unequal division of labour in the home and the failure of employers to promote women. But there’s also another problem: when women do ask for a pay rise, they are judged more harshly than men and less likely to get one.
Women on Boards UK, a careers organisation that has long championed the acceleration of women into board level roles, wants to help and inspire women with useful tools and tips for how to ask for a pay rise in a way that sets women up for success.
Speaking about the initiative, Fiona Hathorn, CEO of Women on Boards UK, said, “We know that simply asking for a pay rise in the right way will not fix decades of inequality or begin to address the systemic and structural barriers surround equal pay, but we also know that women have been socialised to be uncomfortable, hesitant and even apologetic when negotiating salary.”
“The #AskForMore initiative aims to challenge these stereotypes and empower women to see themselves as powerful negotiators with the tools to ask for an equal pay salary increase in a way that works for women.”
Women on Boards UK has created a free downloadable guide with tips and resources, which anyone can access here.
This is often overlooked but if you negotiate a higher salary from the get-go, it can make a dramatic difference over the course of your career. In the book Women Don’t Ask it’s revealed that about 7% of women attempt to negotiate a starting salary, compared to 57% of men. However, don’t negotiate for negotiation’s sake, make sure you come prepared and ready to explain your value and why you deserve a higher salary than advertised.
Understand the competitive salary for your company and your industry. Websites and platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn are a great tool for this but also ask recruiters and even friends, peers, and family to validate your research.
You need to learn how to advocate for yourself and how to demonstrate your value. One way of doing this is to ensure you are consistently recording your achievements – and making them known. Keep a record or an email folder of all the extra projects you have done, examples of when you have gone above and beyond, positive feedback from clients and peers. Then identify appropriate opportunities and channels to highlight your own contribution to your boss and wider stakeholders, both throughout the year and when negotiating pay.
It’s widely acknowledged that men are judged on potential while women are judged more on past performance. To help overcome this it’s vital that you lay out your contributions but also focus on talking about what you will be tackling next.
Seniority is a huge part of pay, and demonstrating you are a strategic leader is key to getting a promotion to those senior roles. It can be hard to get the opportunities in a large company, but Women on Boards is clear that you’re never too young to start considering your first board role. Start positioning yourself to fill boards seats at your local sports club, school or charity as early as possible in your career as it’s proven to be great for career acceleration in the long-term and will help you to stand apart from any internal competition.
As women asking for more can feel out of our comfort zone, so make sure you practice. Get feedback from friends and family so you feel your most confident self. Pay attention to your tone of voice and don’t use tentative language. Instead of “I was thinking of a 5% pay rise”, say “my proposal is 5% and this is why.” Resist the urge to fill the silence!