April 10th was Equal Pay Day. Congratulations! If you’re a woman, April 10th was the day you caught up to your male colleagues from last year. You worked 100 days into 2018 to make the same as your male colleagues made in 2017.
Why? Because of your gender? Yes, and…like most things in life, it’s complicated.
There are a few things that I hear over and over and over from the women I work with:
- Women just don’t ask.
- When we do ask, we do it in a way that isn’t effective.
- When we get a “no,” we take it personally.
- We don’t know how to get over our shame or disappointment so we can ask again.
What can you do about it?
Let’s break these down into some action steps that you can use right away.
1. Women just don’t ask.
I’ve worked with so many women who don’t ask.
You may be afraid that your boss will say “no,” which is humiliating. Since your salary is so deeply connected to your value and worth as an employee and even a human, getting a “no” causes shame that feeds your fears that you really aren’t worth it.
QUICK TIP: Walk through all the worst-case scenarios that you can think of and figure out exactly how you’ll respond.
For example, “If my boss says ‘no’, I will ask a question like, ‘What would it take to make this happen next year?’”
Or maybe you just don’t know what to say.
QUICK TIP: Create a script so you know exactly what to say.
Get a script HERE. Create your own and practice saying it out loud.
2. When we do ask, we do it in a way that isn’t effective.
What would motivate your boss to WANT to give you a raise? Your boss is NOT motivated by the fact that you’ve been doing your job for a year.
Longevity is not a reason to pay you more.
Your boss wants to know what you’ve specifically done above and beyond your job description to justify paying you more.
QUICK TIP: Create a list of three things that you’ve done that justify an increase.
Your boss doesn’t care if you’ve just bought a house or need to pay for your kid’s college or if you got divorced. Those are not reasons to pay you more.
Your boss does care about the things you’ve done to make his/her life easier, the company more profitable or the product more effective.
3. When we get a “no,” we take it personally.
It’s really easy to go right to feeling like you, personally, have been rejected. You’re sitting there, your heart is beating fast, your palms are sweating and your boss says ‘no.’ Sure, he/she said, “I don’t have the budget” or “sales are down” or “my hands are tied.” It doesn’t really matter what your boss says, what you hear is, “You don’t deserve it.”
QUICK TIP: When things go wrong, we often blame ourselves. “If only I’d been better, smarter, faster, more articulate…THEN he/she would have said ‘yes.’”
To stop taking things personally, try finding out the real reason. Ask a question to find out why. Then ask another question to find out what you need to do to get that raise, “What do I need to do to get a raise?”
Get specific. Make a list. Then set a date to follow-up and send that calendar invitation to your boss right after the meeting, even if it’s 6-months or a year down the road.
4. We don’t know how to get over our shame or disappointment so we can ask again.
When you’re reeling from rejection, it’s hard to crawl out of that dark hole of shame. Don’t give up! Think of when you learned to ride a bike. You fell, you fell, you fell again….but every time you picked yourself up and tried again until you could ride.
QUICK TIP: Use “or maybe…” to take that first step forward.
When you’re smarting from the shame of getting a ‘no’, start by making a list of what else could be going on in this situation.
Thinking you’re just not good enough to get that raise? Or maybe it has nothing to do with you. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that your boss has already submitted her budget for the year.
Once you’ve taken one step toward getting over the shame or disappointment, you can ask a question, “I’d like to know how I can get that raise.”
The Bottom Line
Is gender the reason behind the pay gap? Certainly, yes in some situations and no in others. Regardless, you don’t have to feel like a victim. Use these tips to help you retake control, to ask for more and feel great about it.
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Check out theSkimm’s Guide to ‘Celebrating’ Equal Pay Day – a few of our favorite things that either eliminate ‘the pink tax’ or support female entrepreneurship. Pssst…the pink tax: when companies charge more for women’s products than men’s. We’re calling BS. Never heard of the pink tax? What this video, click HERE.