There’s been so much in the news lately about the gender pay gap between men and women. And recently, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella received criticism for his comments at a women’s computer science conference for saying that it’s good Karma for women not to ask for a raise.
Prior to that statement, he spoke about how HR systems are long-term efficient, short-term inefficient, meaning that over time, you’ll get the right compensation. While that can happen, it doesn’t always. The challenge is that women generally start out making less than their male counterparts. I saw this time and time again in my corporate career and it’s hard to catch up if you start too low.
As a former hiring manager, it was so painful to be interviewing a woman and when asking for their salary requirements, hearing a number that was $20,000 or more less per year than their male counterparts were asking for…and making. And, there were several challenges with just putting them at the same salary as the men. First, they didn’t know their own worth. If a woman is asking for $45,000 a year and suddenly makes $70,000, and doesn’t know and really own that that’s what she should be making, energetically she could perform poorly and/or sabotage her career as a result of feeling unworthy or undeserving. Second, if they’re already making less, in this example $40,000 and they are asking for $45,000 and male candidates are asking for even $65,000+ but not as qualified, HR may question is this the right candidate…can they really do the job. Or they might make the manager keep them at a lower salary to save the company money.
So what did I do? I swore the women candidates to secrecy, asked them not to ever repeat the number they gave me out loud again and got them as close as I could without telling them that they might be still underpaid. At least they were close and I could make it up later on a promotion…hint hint…I’ll get to more about that later.
Thankfully, Maria Klawe, Mr. Nadella’s interviewer, disagreed with him. She gave two great pieces of advice.
- Do your homework. This goes for every industry. It pained me one day to hear the top salaries of the TV sitcom males vs females. The top males were making over $350,000 per episode, where as the top females were making less than half! UGH…not to mention the amounts per episode in general…just saying. In sharing that salary discrepancy with a female actor, I really heard her concern that with so many other actors going for the same role, she didn’t want to be pushy. However, there’s so much power in doing your homework and understanding what is possible. For those of you in corporate, go to salary.com and research salaries based on your job title and your location. It’s not 100% accurate in all situations and at least you’ll know the range of possibilities.
- Role play. Once you know what the salary range is…PRACTICE. Practice with trusted friends and family members (the operative word is trusted…that’s a whole other blog I could write…). Practice in the mirror, shower, driving, etc, so you don’t choke on the words, say them as if you’re a mouse, or I’ve even seen someone shout it…out of sheer nervousness. Practice until you can say it with a straight face and you really own it inside.
Remember my hint hint above? Making more money is not always about getting a raise, by the way. Yes, it’s absolutely about being excellent about what you do. And, if you are, it’s about moving up the ladder, whether toward managing people or becoming what’s called a “subject matter expert.” There were definitely times when I inherited a team member that just was grossly underpaid compared to the team and I had to give them a raise to get them in the zone. But, it was far easier for me to get someone promoted because of their demonstrated excellence…even in tough economic times and promotion freezes.
There are some key elements to getting promoted. I’ve heard many women say, “they should just notice I’m doing a good job. I shouldn’t have to ask.” Yes and no. Your boss doesn’t know ALL that you do, especially if they’ve got more than 2 people they are managing. You must showcase your talents, skills and accomplishments in a way that they see you. Most men do this very well…much better than women. And, it’s just education…and I’ll do my best to help you…
UPDATE 3/5/15: I recently recorded a webinar on the “5 Mistakes Every Woman Needs to AVOID to Advance Her Career and Get Promoted!”
Visit https://www.kaminsamuel.com/women-career-mistakes-registration/ to watch the webinar.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Excellent points, Kamin!
When I worked in the corporate world I was ALWAYS one of the highest paid of ALL employees. Every single time I did something well and my bosses would praise me, I’d say, “Thanks! Can I have a raise?” I’d do so in a fun, jokingly, friendly, non-threatening way, but the message was obvious: I want more money, as often as possible, and to be rewarded financially for a job well done. Come promotion time, I would often get double – or more- what was the “going” raise and was sworn to secrecy.
I hope more women start speaking up more often and ask for what they deserve!
Thanks so much Felicia! I do, too.
And, I had a similar experience as you did. The first few years of my corporate career, I received promotions every year. I’ll share more about how I did that in another post 🙂