I remember the first time I realized I was being underpaid: It was early in my career when my male colleague casually mentioned his salary to me like he was talking about the weather outside and I totally shut down.
I remember feeling disturbed and confused.
Confused that he told me.
Confused that I made less than he did even though we worked the same position.
And most of all, disturbed by my own reaction. Why did I feel so uncomfortable that money was being discussed?
It is probably because I am a woman. Whoa. WHOA! I just went there and we are not even 30 seconds into this post, I know. But let’s be real: Gender stereotypes exist and so does the wage gap between men and women. There’s clearly a correlation. My initial reaction about money in a business situation was due to years of not quantifying my own worth because I was afraid I would look “aggressive.” Ugh.
My story is one of a gagillion. You can Google it. The Wall Street Journal just released a story about it. Yes, it is an issue that companies should be working to fix and every human resource department on the planet should be tasked with pay equality, but it is also an issue that every woman needs to take upon herself to bring up and remedy.
So, ladies, I ask you to ask yourself these two questions: Are you being underpaid? Are you uncomfortable when money is brought up? Here are 5 things you can do to change things:
Websites like Glassdoor are super helpful for salary comparing for the role you are in as well as the area that you work in. Get familiar with the numbers and have a case ready when you decide to act on a raise or pay request. Evidence is key.
Ladies, do not be shy about asking for what you are worth and talking about it with future or current employers. Every time you are in an interview or a review, never low ball yourself. If you don’t advocate for yourself, you’re failing yourself as well as every other woman stuck in the same situation. Yes, you could be told “no,” but that is a slim price to pay to ensure you are being accurately compensated.
Get familiar with money. Understand the multiple ways you can make money! Research all different types of income streams like stocks as well as nontraditional business models you may or may not fully understand such as direct sales and network marketing, which tend to have set and unbiased compensation plans.
Talk About It
The best way to be comfortable when money is brought up is to familiarize yourself with everything above and talk about it. I’ve also found bringing up statistics more often in meetings and conversations to be helpful. I firmly believe that the more you state true numbers, the more your confidence will be boosted because it is very hard to argue with facts. Once you have shown yourself that you have the ability to prove something to someone else, doing that for yourself becomes easier.
Pay It Forward
When you are a hiring manager, pay fairly. If a candidate asks for a salary that is lower than what you expected, tell them they should come back to you with a higher number, or just offer them more. I’m serious! How refreshing would it be if we all were paid what we were worth to begin with?
At the end of the day, deciding not to talk about or understand how money and business work is not just an individual’s choice; it is fuel for an epidemic that needs to be stopped. We must decide to redefine femininity for the sake of ourselves as well as our sisters and daughters. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing more feminine than talking about business and money, so let’s start doing it.