Tomorrow -- April 12, is Equal Pay Day -- meaning, it's the day in 2016 until which the average woman would need to work to make as much as the average man made in 2015.
So in honor of Equal Pay Day, we wanted to provide a guide for women about what you should do if you find out that a man who is in the same role as you is making more than you are. Which happens. Way. Too. Often.
Here's how the story goes: you saw that stray spreadsheet in the printer listing the salaries for your entire team. And right there in black-and-white, who makes more than you? Allen? Your peer with the same years of experience and same role? The guy who comes in late every day and plays golf on fridays, pretending it's a "client meeting"? Give me a break!
You need to take action - and fix the problem. Because you deserve it - and so do women everywhere. So here are seven simple steps to the raise you deserve:
1) Scream -- but don't cry
You have every right to be angry - and it's an appropriate reaction. Get angry - but take it outside. Don't let others in your office that you're upset. And for heaven's sake, don't cry. Even though you're feeling undervalued and just generally screwed over, don't let the situation drag you down. Your company hasn't treated you right -- but you have to be strong and focus on fixing the problem. Don't let the company's mistake affect your own self-worth.
2) Chill out
Do some yoga or have a drink if that's your thing. Calm yourself down. You're going to go talk to management, but before you do, you need to get the emotion out of it. So do whatever is is you do to get zen, and make sure you can hold it together for your meeting.
3) Go talk to your manager, and to HR
Ok, now that you're calm, it's time to bring this to your manager's attention. Do not start out by raising concerns about gender discrimination. Because a) that might not be the reason (your co-worker could be the CEO's God-son for all you know), and b) you don't want to make your boss feel defensive.
For these conversations, you need to focus on how to make your manager and/or your HR person into your advocate. Help them see that you're serious about this, and you know you deserve more. Remind them of your accomplishments and contributions.
They will probably provide reasons and/or excuses (he was hired before the last round of layoffs, he came from the sales group, etc etc). Acknowledge what they're saying, but don't relent. There is no reasonable excuse for this.
4) Follow up
Unless you work in Narnia, you're probably not going to get a response right away. Or at all. So follow up. Pick your favorite day of the week, and nudge your manager and/or HR person each week until you get your raise.
5) Follow up again
See above. This is in your hands. You have to be persistent if you are going to solve this issue.
6) Get your raise, OR go find another job.
If indeed you company is not compensating you at the same level as your peer, then there are only one of two acceptable endings to this story. Either they fix it (which can sometimes take up to a year) or it's time for you to go find a new job. And now, you know exactly what salary you should be asking for.
7) Go online and share your experience
There are lots of online tools that have been developed to share salaries and experiences in the corporate world (ahem: that's what we do at Fairygodboss). Share your experience anonymously because when stories like this are public, companies are more likely to take action on a broad scale. Which means more companies are going to do more to make sure women are paid equitably to men. So your online contributions to these sites could help women everywhere.
By standing up for what's right for you, you'll be helping to support the cause of women everywhere. And maybe, just maybe, Equal Pay Day will come a little earlier next year.
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