pay increaseThis week is International Women’s Day so I’ve joined up with lots of other brilliant female money bloggers to bring you posts specifically about money issues for women. Mine is all about the gender pay gap and how you can ask for a pay increase.

Of course pay gaps doesn’t just exist in relation to gender. There’s been a recently reported ethnic pay gap of 37% for London public sector workers! However, the gender pay gap has been at the forefront of many media outlets this year. Perhaps with the rise of #metoo and #timesup the correlation of poor treatment of women in the work place isn’t at all coincidental.

So what can and should you do about the gender pay gap?

Well, if you’re aware that your pay doesn’t match your male colleagues doing the same role then it is likely you’re in a job where the phrase “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” applies. Except, it isn’t always that easy is it?! Many women think that if they plough on with their work, at some point their bosses will give them the recognition that they deserve and offer them a pay rise. Unfortunately it simply doesn’t work like this.

In 2017 men earned 18% more than women on average according to the office for National Statistics. This is a gap the government has tried to close, with new legislation requiring all companies with more than 250 employees to publish their pay figures, including gender breakdown.

Yet after more than ten years of lost earnings, the credit crunch and another five years of expected financial stagnation for the country, a top down approach isn’t likely to have the effect women need to see.

It’s time to take matters into our own hands.

If you’re in your late twenties, early thirties, you’re more likely to be experiencing the gender pay gap as this shoots up as women take career breaks to have children. Being at home for a year or more can knock your confidence, especially if your workplace has been less than forthcoming with offering contact days and training during your absence.

Naturally, it isn’t just women who are putting themselves down but their colleagues who can often make assumptions based on parental status thinking that someone returning to work who has young children won’t be interested in promotion etc. Of course, these generalisations are often misplaced and with the cost of childcare nowadays, anyone returning to work who requires childcare will be wanting any extra penny and pound they can get their hands on!

Because you’re worth it!

Knowing just how much you should be earning can be a complex matter and that can be why many women don’t question their salary and accept that it is correct. It’s time to do the maths though. Write down how much revenue you made for the company. How many new leads you brought in. How much money you saved them, both cashable and non-cashable. Even if you work for yourself, assess the value that you offer. What do you offer over and above your competitors? Make sure you charge sufficiently for this added value.

All these facts will form the basis of your negotiations. I find it really useful to keep a diary or portfolio of achievements throughout the year which demonstrate how I’m reaching the required competencies for my role. Otherwise it can be hard to show someone a year on, why you think you’re worth a pay increase.

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But just how much ARE you worth?

A guy I worked with in one of my first jobs gave me a great piece of advice which I’ve used throughout my career to date. He said that as a graduate, I should always try and earn more than my age. So at age 33, I knew I needed to apply for promotion as I’d reached the top of my pay band which was almost exactly £33k.

Of course, I have been earning very well from my blog too so in theory there was no need for me to panic, but it is also about the roles and responsibilities which come with that level of salary and I knew acquiring supervisory experience was next on my to-do list from a job. That’s when I decided to apply for promotion and got myself a great new job with opportunities for personal development. If you’re looking to do the same whilst on maternity leave you can read my post here.

Verbalising is key

It is so easy for us women to big up our female colleagues but then be self-deprecating when it comes to speaking about ourselves. This has to stop – now! Practice talking about your achievements and what you’re worth out loud to anyone that will listen. This will put you in really good stead for the next step. Seek out a mentor if you know you need some coaching in selling yourself.

Talk to your boss

It might be that your boss doesn’t even know how much you’re earning and therefore won’t have a clue about any pay imbalances amongst their team. So broach the subject but avoid letting them know what your target salary is to begin with. You also might want to consider a back up plan. If your boss is going to be immovable on pay increase, would flexible working hours, working from home, an increase in annual leave days or some investment in your training be acceptable to you?

Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and benchmarked across the industry you work, in line with your skills, experience and achievements for the company. Show your calculations and allow them time to digest the information. This is just a proposal to them to begin negotiations.

Negotiating your worth

Negotiation sounds scary but at the end of the day, it really is just a two-way conversation. Remaining polite, calm, respectful and positive will keep things going in the right direction for you. You don’t need to get personal or confrontational if you’ve done your preparation. There’s no need to bring up the actual cost of your childcare or recent vets bills and definitely don’t make yourself out like a martyr.

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End on a positive note

Women in particular are terrible for apologising for everything! This needs to stop too. There is absolutely no need to apologise for asking for a pay increase if you fully believe that you’re worth it. If nerves are likely to get the better of you in this situation just embrace the silence once you’ve given your proposal to avoid risking backtracking on yourself. Then offer them a set amount of time to get back to you and see what they say. Even if they come back with a no, take it as a no, not yet.

Ask for feedback on what it is that you could do to warrant the pay you’ve requested and see it as a challenge to accept. Of course if you sense that there is significant inequality in pay from your employer then it can be worth chatting to HR or a union representative for professional advice.

Top Tips

  • Review your achievements
  • Practice selling yourself out loud
  • Benchmark what other companies pay in your industry
  • Decide on a target salary
  • Have a back up plan for negotiations
  • Keep it polite and positive
  • Don’t get personal
  • Know when to shut up
  • Get professional advice and assistance
  • Be prepared to apply elsewhere.

I’m linking up with #WomenRockMoney which is a great hashtag to find lots of other similar articles for you to enjoy and be inspired by!

If you’ve enjoyed reading my post then check out these other inspiring post from my Women Money Blogger friends: