The 'M' Word

Money. It can be an awkward conversation. But it’s a necessary conversation. Research shows that men are better at negotiating on their own behalf than women are. This is down to the fact that women tend to speak conservatively when they talk about their accomplishments. They therefore don’t sell themselves as well as men do. So when it comes to the inevitable “why do you deserve this salary increase?” question, women sell themselves short.

Women in the UK are paid on average 13.9% less per hour than men working full-time. I’m using the mean average (the measure used by The Fawcett Society and TUC but not by the ONS) because I believe it is a truer representation of the bias. The median value (the measure used by the ONS, excluding OT work) I think skews the results because there are more men in top paying jobs. Equal Pay Day marks the day in the year when women effectively stop getting paid as a result of the gender pay gap. In 2016 Equal Pay Day is 10th November. Whist the pay gap has been closing, progress has been stalled. At the current rate of progress it will take over 50 years to close the gap for full time workers in the UK.

The Fawcett Society, a UK organisation that campaigns for women’s rights, suggests that the four primary reasons for the gender pay gap are; discrimination, unequal caring responsibilities, a divided labour market, and men in the most senior roles. The gender pay gap varies throughout one’s lifetime and is relatively small up to and including the 30 – 39 age bracket. The obvious trend is that from the age of 30 men start earning more, and from 40 onwards the gap is more pronounced. This is because women take time out of the work force, switch to part-time work, or leave the work force all together, to raise children and their salaries never recover. The reality is that “during the same years that our careers demand maximum time investment, our biology demands that we have children” (Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In).

But equally, women impose internal barriers that hinder their own pay progression. Women don’t back themselves. They undervalue themselves. And as such, they tend to be poorer where it comes to their own salary negotiations. As a head hunter and recruitment consultant, I witness this bias first hand. I have noticed that women are more inclined to take a pay cut when moving jobs whereas men typically expect an increase. I have noticed women underrating their skills and value. If a woman takes these typical biases she has again herself to a salary negotiation, it probably won’t go well. So first thing; know your worth and back yourself. And second, start negotiating your salary or raise. Read out next blog for tips.