International Women’s Day 2023: Let’s Make Pay Inequity a Thing of the Past
Each year, I use International Women’s Day to share my reflections on what it has been like to be a woman leading in a male-dominated industry, to be the mother of a daughter, and to uplift women’s organizations and the efforts I believe are critical to empowering women professionally. This year, I wanted to focus on action rather than reflections, so I am mapping out a three-step process for women to help make sure they are paid fairly relative to their male counterparts.
Pay inequity and gender discrimination has been a problem since the workforce diversified to include women and people of color. Fortunately, recent legislation at all levels of government from state to federal have adopted policies to help prevent this kind of discrimination. In some jurisdictions like Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, and Atlanta there are laws in place that prohibit employers from asking candidates about salary history. And in California, companies with 100+ employees are required to report pay data by gender and race.
The bad news is that even with all of these policies, a gender pay gap still exists. In 2022, according to the Census Bureau, women in the U.S. made around 82 cents for every $1 a man earns. In C-suite roles, the ratio is 75 cents to a dollar. In fact, data shows that with the current rate of progress, executive positions will not achieve gender parity until 2060.1
It’s time to change that.
What You Can Do
Hopefully your employer is practicing pay equity. However, it doesn’t hurt to do your own due diligence by following these steps.
1. Benchmark yourself against the market
First, do your research. If you don’t know how much others make in your field, how are you supposed to know if you are being fairly compensated?
Platforms like Indeed, Glassdoor, PayScale and Salary.com share data on average salaries based on job title and skillset. As you do your fact finding, make sure you consider factors such as location, years of experience, the size of your company, special degrees or certifications you have, etc. Sharing a title doesn’t necessarily make you an equal candidate. It is also important to consider incentives outside of your normal paycheck, such as stock or equity, bonuses, 401(k) contributions or pension plans, benefits and other offerings. If you have friends or family in a similar field, see if they are willing to have honest conversations about their compensation. Alternatively, maybe you know someone in HR or recruitment whose brain you can pick.
Based on market data and your experience and skill level, determine a “fair” salary band and see where you fall on that spectrum.
2. Ask for what you deserve and need
Be clear about what you want from your job and your company, and give them the chance to do the same. One of my biggest takeaways from being a woman executive is that men are not afraid to negotiate or ask for raises or other incentives, and women are often reluctant to do so. My advice is not to assume that you will be handed a raise even if you truly do deserve one, and that there are many things in life you won’t get unless you ask.
Consider how other incentives that your company can offer like flexible hours, remote or hybrid work, etc. may impact your value through your employer’s lens. Speak to your manager and understand what might be required from you to advance to a next level, or why you aren’t there now. Don’t let gender be the limiting factor.
3. Pay it forward
Join a women’s leadership or mentorship program to expand your network. Is there a group you can join at your organization? If not, consider starting one. Look outside your company to see if there are women’s groups you could benefit from joining. Leverage your network, and if you find that your network is small, prioritize growing it. If you have concerns about DEI practices at your company, voice them. If you have experienced sexism in the workplace, speak with your HR department and/or manager – speaking up is an act of service in and of itself.
We have made headways in the fight for pay equity. For the first time, Forbes reported in January 2023 thatover 10% of Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO. While a milestone and proven progress, I can’t help but wonder if we should really be celebrating 10%, and instead focusing our efforts on 50%. So, this International Women’s Day, I recommend all women take a more active role in achieve pay equity. Widespread change can start at the micro level.