Today on Equal Pay Day, PayScale hosted a one-hour roundtable discussion addressing the challenges facing women in the workforce. The panelists included Elizabeth Weingarten (Director of the Gender Parity Initiative at New America), Peter Hamilton (CEO of Tune), and Christy Johnson (Founder/CEO of Artemis Connection). The topic: what you can do for yourself, your peers and your organization to effect change, including:
1. Start with data.
Whether you’re negotiating your own salary or helping address gender pay inequity at your company, the best place to start is with accurate data. During the panel discussion, Johnson reminded us that it’s possible to wind up with skewed data on employee surveys, for example, by coaching respondents toward preferred answers.
Accurate data is equally important when you’re negotiating for yourself. Taking PayScale’s Salary Survey will provide you with a salary range based on hundreds of thousands of user surveys, not just hearsay.
2. Understand that the issue is nuanced.
To achieve gender pay equity, we need to tackle two problems: equal pay for equal work, and equal access to opportunity. The uncontrolled gender pay gap stands at 76 cents on the dollar for all men and women because women are less likely to hold high-paying jobs in industries like STEM. They’re also less likely to be promoted to executive level.
Beyond that, it’s important to know that gender inequity can happen even when everyone at the company is a nice person who means well. Malice isn’t required. To get around this, companies should consider adopting transparent pay practices. From an individual’s perspective, understanding that bias is often unconscious and unintentional will go a long way toward creating an environment where coworkers feel safe enough to talk to one another about the problem … and thus start solving it.
3. Be willing to listen to something you don’t want to hear.
Hamilton says that men should look for ways to challenge their assumptions — and listen to others when they bring up issues they don’t necessarily want to hear. It’s not about being PC, he says, but about removing bias.
4. Don’t share your salary history.
Here’s a big one, and anyone can do it: don’t share your salary history during a negotiation. It’s not really relevant, anyway, because your compensation should be based on the role under consideration, not the jobs you’ve held in the past.
Keeping salary history out of negotiations helps level the playing field for women, who may have received — and been forced to take — low-ball offers from previous employers. If everyone were required to give salary histories during job interviews, women would be locked into lower salaries for the whole of their career.
5. Approach negotiations positively.
“There’s a perception that in order to negotiate, you have to be a jerk,” Weingarten says. “Not true.”
In fact, as moderator and PayScale VP of Content Lydia Frank points out, if anyone walks out of a negotiation feeling like they won, no one did. Negotiations are collaborative; fair pay is in your employer’s best interest as well as your own. Do your research and come prepared to negotiate for compensation that recognizes your worth.
For more actions you can take to close the gender pay gap — even if you’re not in charge — check our page for a recorded stream of the event.
And if you’d like to watch PayScale’s Equal Pay Day roundtable discussion in its entirety, you can do so here.
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What have you done to address gender pay inequity? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.