In today’s world, we are fortunate that many people see gender equality as a moral obligation. But few people know that striving towards gender equality is also good for business. When it comes to equal pay, women are taking home
, on average, 82.3% of men’s salaries. The statistics are even worse for working mothers, who earn
69 cents for every dollar fathers make. Women make less than men in nearly every occupation
. For BIPOC women and employees who identify as nonbinary or genderqueer, the gap is even more significant.
The pandemic has set women’s labor force participation back more than thirty years
. Instead of putting men and women on equal footing by forcing everyone to stay at home, the pandemic did the opposite. In February 2021, women’s labor force participation was just 55.8%. As more women take on caretakers roles at home due to remote schooling and lack of childcare, experts predict that women will face an unemployment penalty when returning to the workforce, meaning that this global catastrophe will have a lasting impact on their salaries.
Men and women ask for raises at similar frequencies, but men are more likely to get them. When businesses pay women less, they are not just being unfair–they are also not investing in their best employees. Women tend to stay in workplaces longer than men
, as well as help with important programming in the workplace, such as mentoring younger teammates. Women are also more efficient
in the workplace, according to productivity platform Hive’s State of the Workplace Report
. They complete more work than men and tend to make better use of their time. Women work smarter, not more. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to work on weekends, even as they complete fewer tasks overall.
When businesses pay women less, they are not just being unfair–they are also not investing in their best employees.
Speaking from my own experience, I can guarantee you that many women are not only underpaid but also too afraid to ask for more money. Women tend to undervalue themselves because they don’t have the same confidence that is drilled into their male counterparts.
I began my career as a software developer in Israel after graduating as a top student from Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. During college, I taught my classmates C and C++ before it was mainstream. I served as the professor’s teaching assistant. Despite my skills and experience, I did not have the courage to ask for a higher salary. I told myself, “The company is doing me a favor by hiring me.”
In my first job, I worked tirelessly–12 hours a day, 6 days a week. I worked for this company for 3 years and never bothered to ask for a raise. Even worse, no one at the company advocated for me, so I ended up having the same salary for 3 years. Today, as a board member and marketing leader, when I notice a young woman in a similar situation, I tell her what I wish someone had told me back then: “You’re adding so much value to the company.”
Another example: In one of my first jobs in the US, where I served as a director of marketing, one of the executives was an old-school guy. Once, when his wife was visiting our office, he asked me, “Do you mind taking my wife shopping?”
I believe that he asked me because I was a woman. The irony is that I hate shopping. I would much rather wear company swag. Oh, and he never promoted me or other women. That says all you need to know about how he valued women.
As women, our insecurities are amplified. Take accent as an example. As an immigrant, I speak English as a second language. That hasn’t and would not change. When I moved to the US I only saw my flaws, which led to a lack of confidence. It took me a while to recognize what advantages I brought to the table: Although language is so important in marketing, knowing a different language makes an immigrant think differently and outside of the box. Personally, I also had a robust technical background that was rare in marketing. What we might see as a disadvantage, might actually be your big advantage.
One of the most impressive executives I’ve ever met–at a Fortune 100–told me that she is dyslexic. No one has it all.
Female immigrants and other underrepresented people in tech are more likely to settle for a lower salary than white men, even when they have an equal or superior experience. As managers, we have to decide: Do we just give them the lower salary? Or do we give them the fair price?
As managers, we have to decide: Do we just give them the lower salary? Or do we give them the fair price?
At our startup, we can guarantee you this: You will get the raise you deserve even if you are about to go on maternity leave. Pregnancy should never be a factor. Working mothers re-entering the workforce may not have as many accomplishments on their CV. They shouldn’t be penalized with lower salaries.
While closing the gender pay gap is a continued battle, part of the effort is in advocating for yourself. Here are my top tips for negotiating your salary and asking for a raise.
1. Don’t Be Shy
Imagine you represent another person, someone you love and appreciate. It is so much easier for us to fight for someone we love. If they say “no,” translate it to “not now.”
2. Think About the Entire Package and the Long-Term Gains
Stocks, options, benefits, bonuses, LTI, and salary are each one component of the equation. Sometimes vacation is worth more money to you than X% raise. If you believe in the company, make sure you discuss stock options.
3. Timing Is Everything
Take advantage of your manager’s open door and plant the seed about two months before your review by opening a larger discussion of where you want to be, and how you can get there.
Big life changes such as having a child might motivate you to ask for a salary bump, but you still need to show the company that you are interested in learning new skills, mentoring team members and taking ownership over larger projects.
4. Remind Yourself That This Is a Business Transaction; It’s Not Personal
Position this conversation as a value add to the business and think of yourself as a third party to take the emotion out of your argument.
When a company raises your salary, they are looking for a return on their investment. Prepare a portfolio highlighting how your biggest accomplishments have benefited the organization–backed by data. NEVER talk about how hard you work or how much you travel.
5. Make Your Direct Manager Look Like the Hero
It’s a bad look to jump ahead of your direct report and ask their boss for a raise, even if your direct supervisor doesn’t have a direct say in the decision. If your direct manager can’t help, inform them you’re going higher.
6. Be Thankful for Any Increase
Even if you didn’t get the entire amount, your manager probably worked hard for you–and they might want to do it again the following year.
7. Do Not Be Afraid to Say Goodbye
If the company does not value you, have the confidence to find the right place for you. Remember that you are talented and deserve to succeed.