Equal Pay: Speak Up for Yourself and Your Posse

Heide BrandesFreelance writer Heide Brandes, a leader in the Oklahoma City chapter of Women in Communications, recent published a remarkably detailed and nuanced analysis of the gender pay gap. I was honored to be a featured source. She reminds us that, even if women haven’t previously been trained to ask and negotiate, it’s never too late to learn. Here’s an excerpt from Brandes’ report on the gender pay gap:

“Despite the equal pay movement in America, a recent study shows that women are still making less than their male counterparts, and that pay gap is starting as early as graduation from college. …

“It’s time for every woman to take on the gender pay gap,” said Executive Coach Ann Daly PhD, founder of WomenAdvance.com, an online career accelerator for women, and national speaker on career issues for women. “That gap still exists because it’s ingrained very deeply in our cultural expectations that men are seen as more powerful and worthy in the workplace.”

According to Daly, when the gender pay gap begins as soon as graduation, the effects can last a lifetime. Although the pay gap has lessened in the past 10 years, rising to women earning 81 percent as much as men compared to 78 percent 10 years ago, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gap still exists. …

“We have made a lot of progress in that the percentage of pay has progressed, but why are powerful women making as much as men an exception, and not the rule?” Daly said. “Women are not stupid. They realize there is a penalty to pay by speaking up or demanding compensation. They know they’ll be looked at as ‘not a team player’ or as ‘bossy.'” …

At the University of Central Oklahoma, Dr. Renee Warning, associate professor in the Department of Management, and Dr. F. Robert Buchanan, assistant professor of management, are deeply aware of the pay gap between women and men and why that gap exists. The two have written numerous research articles on the subject. “There is no denying that women get paid less, and there is always a reason behind it,” said Dr. Warning. “We are finding that there is still a bias that women won’t stay in that position very long.” …

“How do we fix it? That’s a great question,” said Daly. “For one, women individually need to practice speaking up and saying what they are worth. They need to speak in concrete measurements and terms and leave emotion out of it.” Women can also form groups in the workplace to support each other, she said. “Women need to have a posse, so if they don’t feel they are being listened to, they can speak up for each other. On an organizational level, it’s easy to crunch numbers to see if women in the company are being paid equally, and if not, why not?”…

When the women of Walmart sued the company for unfair compensation and promotions, the biggest point they pushed was that the company did not have clear guidelines on how employees were evaluated or promoted, which created a culture of excessive subjectivity. “Employers need to be vigilant in setting fair and equitable performance review structures that clearly state the basis upon which people get raises or promotions,” Daly said. “That way, you have measurable results and not just an emotional response. Companies should put in place objective and transparent criteria and train managers to use that system.”

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