Good morning SOTGC readers. Here is another post inspired by the Summit (A View From The Top.) During the breakout session there was a list of questions at each table that we were supposed to address. Somehow the table that I was at bypassed these questions and launched into a very robust debate about women in the workplace. I may or may not have helped instigate this by starting it off with posing a question to the table that had occurred to me during one of the panelist’s talks. But let’s not dwell on things that can’t be changed J
I was sitting at a table with about eight other women, all very ambitious and intelligent, and at various stages in their career. One of the topics that was brought up was inequality in pay. I feel that based on my conversations with women along the course of my career, that there is indeed a disparity. When we were discussing why we thought this was, we decided that it seems like women are less likely to ask for (and stand firm by) what they know they deserve in terms of compensation. I am in NO way saying this is the ONLY reason and am in no way saying this wage gap is our own fault. I’m simply sharing one of the viewpoints that we came up with.
I realize that this is probably a topic best discussed by ladies who are in salaried jobs. Where the disparity in compensation on what they are offered going into the job, as well as the frequency and increase in annual raises differs than what their male counterparts receive. I’m in sales and in general our compensation structure is the same across the board, and is not gender specific. That being said, I do have experience in requesting a guarantee when I was hired at Salient Surgical. For those of you not in sales, a guarantee is a set amount of revenue for a set amount of time (on top of your base salary) that acts as your “commission” since they realize you won’t immediately be making commission during the initial months that you’re ramping up your territory. At the time, I guesstimated what I was going to make at my current company, added 10% to that, and asked for that monthly number. I realize I was probably extremely lucky to have a very fair boss who granted that request without any pushback. However, even if he had fought me on it…I would have held strong because I knew what I was worth and wanted them to recognize it as well.
At our table I noticed a variety of responses on why women (in general) don’t ask for what they know they deserve. I also noticed that these answers WIDELY varied based on the “at home situation” of each lady. Those of us that were single, or had husbands who made equal or more money than us, felt very confident in our abilities to do the research needed and go in with the confidence to hold firm in our request for “just compensation.” We all agreed that the best time to look for and interview for a job is when you’re already gainfully employed, which adds leverage to your ability to hold firm to that number since you already have a good job.
However there were different viewpoints from the ladies who were the sole bread winner in their family, or who brought home the majority of the family income and had children. They felt that due to their specific circumstance, they didn’t have the luxury of potentially losing an opportunity by requesting certain compensation, and running the risk of being turned down and having someone slightly “less costly” or even a male, take that job that they needed. The response to this (that was posed by one of the “non sole bread winners” at the table) was along the lines of “well have you tried requesting the amount you know you deserve? Or has it been the fear of potentially losing the opportunity that keeps you from asking in the first place.” My response was along the lines of “but if you do your homework, and research what the industry standard compensation for that job is, and what the cost of living allowance (should you need to move) should be, and walk in armed with those facts and the confidence in your abilities, your chances of getting what you want are much higher, right?” Another lady pointed out that if you are about to start a job with a company that won’t even acknowledge your worth from the onset, do you even want to work for them?
I honestly don’t know what the answers or solution to something like this is. Mostly because it does seem that for those of us who do not have the responsibility of a family who depends on our income, asking for and sticking by that number is much easier. However, it would be interesting to see if it is simply the fear of being turned down that is keeping women from asking for and getting what they want…and makes me wonder what would be the outcome of them asking for and staying by the number, even at the risk of being passed up.
For those of you in the job market or in the interview process and would like help with these tools to research industry averages and cost of living adjustments, I wrote a post with the help of my friends Angela and Heather called “It’s All About Strategery…And Staying The Course” that helps provide those resources. And yes, Strategery is spelled wrong…on purpose 🙂