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Mind the pay gap

March 15th 2022 is ‘equal pay day’, ironically following closely behind International Women’s Day this year. The significance of the date is that it represents how far into this year the average woman has to work to reach parity with the average man's salary from the previous year.

The better news is that the gap continues to shrink, in part due to current economic circumstances. As reported in our January blog 'I'll give you an extra £10,000 a year to stay' the great resignation has presented an opportunity to renegotiate salary levels with companies keen to acquire or retain talent. This feeling is reflected in 2022 research conducted by Glassdoor which shows that the majority (85%) of employed women believe they deserve a pay increase and 63% believe the great resignation gives them more leverage to negotiate their pay.

The same research shows that women are negotiating. Nearly 7 out of 10 (68%) employed women have tried to negotiate their pay, with 59% reporting being successful. For the remaining 32% of women who said they did not negotiate, the barriers were:

  • Fear of being denied (34%)

  • Fear of losing their job (27%)

  • Not enough information about fair market compensation for their role (25%)

  • Not knowing how to negotiate (25%)

  • Negative impact on my future career opportunities (22%)

  • The potential impact on my relationships with co-workers (12%)

Our research, as summarised in our recent LinkedIn article, Do women negotiate better? shows that whilst there are some subtle differences between the skills demonstrated by men and women, the ability to negotiate is at least comparable and probably higher for women in certain specific areas.

As to the above barriers, it’s worth remembering that often people will negotiate with themselves before they even engage with the other side. To avoid this potential erosion of value, planning beforehand is a must - what is the current market rate? Does my planned proposed increase reflect this?

Fear of rejection is the most common barrier. Any proposal made should be clear, specific and succinct (choose your time and place as well). Whilst we shouldn’t ‘expect’ rejection we can still plan for it if we do get a ‘no’. Asking great questions may shine a light on previously unknown issues or concerns - such as "Under what circumstances...?", "What would I need to do...?", "If we can’t agree on X, how close could we get to it?".

As we’ve commented before, the great resignation should push us to review fears such as ‘losing our job’ a little differently – provided we approach the issues in a calm, proactive and appropriate manner.

As for negative impacts on future opportunities and relationships with co-workers, it’s worth remembering that others may actually be impressed with an assertive approach delivered in a realistic and reasonable way. Our pay is in part about our own ‘value’. If we don’t value ourselves and our abilities , it makes it harder for others to do the same.

Sam Macbeth, 15th March 2022

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