How to Close Your Wage Gap All by Yourself

Published on by Lisa Gates.

 By Lisa Gates...reposted from Forbes Woman.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’ Equal Pay Day message states that it takes a woman one year, two months and three days to make what her male counterparts make in one year. That might not seem like such a wide divide, but research shows that the impact over a lifetime can cost women between $375,00 to $1.5 million.

As Solis says of the persistent wage gap, that’s 20 percent less shopping at Von’s, 20 percent pumping less BP gas, and 20 percent less spent on your children’s education.

Solis also highlights the achievements under President Obama’s administration:

  • Fixing bad policies.
  • Leveling the playing field for employers that play by the rules.
  • Cracking down on those who do not by strengthening enforcement.
  • Creating opportunities for flexwork.

What’s missing from the list of actions and achievements? Simple: negotiation training.

Why we must focus on training women to negotiate is beautifully illustrated in this excerpt from A Fresh Look Through the Glass Ceiling posted in the Harvard Law School Negotiation newsletter.

Recent research has indicated that, when [women] do negotiate on their own behalf, women ask for and receive lower wages than men.

Fiona Greig of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government . . . surveyed 319 client-facing professionals at an investment bank. At the end of the 15-minute survey, respondents were offered a free Starbucks card in appreciation of their time. The survey indicated that the value of the card had not yet been determined and asked the respondents to propose how much they should receive.

Like other researchers, Greig finds that women were significantly less likely than men to even make a request (76% of women compared to 90% of men), and that women requested less than men, on average ($17.84 for women and $20.98 for men. . . ). More interestingly, Greig finds . . . [that] those more inclined to negotiate were not able to use this skill to extract a better entry-level position, but they were promoted, on average, eighteen months sooner than those who tended not to negotiate.

Greig finds that the gender gap in propensity to negotiate completely accounts for the gender gap in seniority. She concludes, if women were to negotiate on behalf of themselves as much as men do, they would advance as quickly as men and eliminate the under-representation of women in the top ranks of the organization.

So here’s our Equal Pay Day message to women:

Negotiation puts women squarely at the epicenter of a movement. A women’s movement that can and will change the quality of life for everyone across the globe. This new millennium has been hailed as the Century of the Woman, and if we are to make it so and put the world’s well-being in our hands, it’s time for all of us to put our own well-being front and center first.

That means we have to start having conversations that lead to agreement. That is, negotiating. We want the corner office as much as we want clean water to drink. We crave credit and respect and compensation as much as we want the toilet seat down.

When women learn how to be powerful askers, and when women are empowered to take leadership roles in their lives and livelihoods, we make choices that change history. We need to start with our pocketbooks because without economic power, we have no political power. No voice. No presence. No platform. No credibility.

And when women have power, we add our natural creative capacities to mend fences, knock down walls, and bridge moats. We teach, heal, feed, mend, fix, and nurture. We create, design, empower and transform.

We start with our pocketbooks because we women are now, more than ever, responsible for shoring up our own wage gaps and opening the door for our daughters and granddaughters. Because we have always had the keys to the castle and it’s time to get real about our legacy.

In this light “client-facing investment bankers” can easily close their own individual wage gap, but they must also see their sisters in the workplace not as competitors but partners in this movement. We can then expand our view to include the economic rise of the woman who is cleaning our hotel room at the Ritz, or checking out our purchases as Walmart.



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Published on by Lisa Gates.