Every year Equal Pay Day falls on March 14, which highlights the persistent gender wage gap that affects women in the workplace. What’s even more shocking is that this only covers women in general, but if you look at Black Women and Native American Women, it takes even longer for them to reach equal pay on July 27 and November 30 respectively. While this is infuriating, there are steps you can take to advocate for yourself and other women to help prepare for performance reviews, ask for a raise or promotion, and ultimately boost your career.
While the gender wage gap is a complex issue and not something that we can change overnight, there is something we can do. One of the things we can change is the tendency of women to wait for recognition at work. This passive approach to career progression can significantly hurt your earning potential. Men will ask for promotions more frequently and will leave a company more often if they are passed over for promotion. Learning to become an advocate for yourself will help you move the needle faster while we wait for society to catch up.
Be Your Own Cheerleader
Remember that old cheer about being aggressive? I’m chanting it in my head as I write this. As women, we are taught from a young age not to be aggressive but to be people pleasers and go with the flow. This behavior hurts us in the workplace and is something we can learn to change. Start small with daily affirmations and work up to things like tracking your results, asking for a promotion, and negotiating your salary. Instead of waiting for the results to speak for themselves, you need to speak up and be vocal about what you’re doing. Your self-advocacy skills can be your most important tool in closing the gender wage gap.
Think about your career from a third-party perspective and a broader perspective. What does the earning potential look like in your industry? Are there women who stand out as top earners? What does their trajectory look like? Start looking at your career from a 1,000-foot view versus your daily tasks. Always keep your eye on the prize. Instead of thinking about what you accomplished today, think about your overall contribution to your industry or your company. How are you affecting change and/or the bottom line? This will help you realize your overall value to your company.
Keep Your Resume Updated
One often overlooked tool for self-advocacy is an updated resume. While many of us only think of our resumes when applying for new jobs, they can serve as a powerful resource in your journey to a raise or promotion. Having a resume that accurately reflects your accomplishments, skills, and experiences is essential for making a compelling pitch or ask during your performance review. It also serves as a reminder to review your accomplishments. If you have a calendar reminder to update your resume every month or quarter, it forces you to look at your value to the company and your hiring potential. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that nobody else would hire us, or this is as good as it gets. By always having an updated resume, you take that power back and always keep your options open.
While you might not know everyone’s salary, you can do a lot of your own benchmarking research using LinkedIn, and tools like Glassdoor. Start with your company and look at the employees – how long on average does it take for people to be promoted? Can you find salary information on Glassdoor for each title at your company, or at least get an idea? Then do the same thing for your closest competitors. This will give you an idea of where to start. While a promotion can happen at any time, knowing these averages is crucial so you don’t wait five years for that raise, while someone who asked got it in two years.
Identify the Decision Makers
You might work for a company with an HR department and a more formal review and salary program, but many people work for small to mid-size businesses where things aren’t always defined. This is the equivalent of the old boys club, and you need to know who makes the salary and promotion decisions. Those are the people you need to impress. This might be your immediate boss or supervisor and that person is certainly your most direct advocate, but there is probably someone above them who decides on the budget or perhaps the team structure. These are people you need to make yourself known to. Whether it’s asking them out for a coffee or taking an interest in their interests, look for ways to connect and let them know who you are and what your value is to the company. This isn’t a hard pitch, but an opportunity to get some face time with those decision-makers.
Know Your Company Goals
While you might perform perfectly at your job, the people that stand out are the ones that help improve the company’s bottom line. Your job might be to talk to customers daily, but how does that help the company hit its revenue goal? If you can show how your performance ladders into the overall company performance, this sets you up for success. For example, you might take customer complaints and be able to show how much money you save the company by troubleshooting, or that you’ve been able to upsell 50% of the complaint calls. Putting your individual tasks and performance into the lens of the company goals is a great way to show your worth and value.
Take Action: How to Ask for a Raise or Promotion
Now that we’ve established the importance of self-advocacy and the role of your resume in closing the gender wage gap, let’s delve into practical steps you can take to ask for a raise or promotion with confidence.
- Schedule a Meeting: Request a meeting with your supervisor or HR representative to discuss your performance, contributions, and compensation.
- Prepare Your Pitch: Clearly articulate your achievements and contributions to the organization. Use specific examples to highlight your value. Having an updated resume can be a valuable resource at this stage to ensure you don’t miss any important points.
- Be Confident and Assertive: Approach the conversation with confidence and a clear understanding of your worth. Practice your pitch in advance to help boost your confidence.
- Listen and Negotiate: Be prepared for a conversation. Your employer may have questions or concerns, and negotiation might be necessary. Be open to compromise but stay focused on achieving fair compensation.
- Follow-Up: After the meeting, follow up with any agreed-upon actions or deadlines. This demonstrates your commitment and professionalism.
Take Charge of Your Career
As a next step, I encourage you to book a power session with me to receive personalized guidance and support in your journey toward a raise or promotion. Don’t let the gender wage gap hold you back; take control of your career and empower yourself to achieve the success you deserve!