What Will End the Need for an Equal Pay Day?

iStock_000009393502SmallApril 8, 2014 is Equal Pay Day. It’s not a holiday as in “Happy Equal Pay Day” but it is a day that should be marked by both men and women. It represents the time the typical American woman needs to work beyond the previous year to equal the pay a man earned in the previous year. Last year, Equal Pay Day was April 9th.   Progress is slow. Women are still earning 77 cents to men’s dollar.

Harvard economist Claudia Goldin has proposed one fix to the problem. In her research paper entitled A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter she writes,“The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might even vanish if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who worked long hours and who worked particular hours.” Another way to think of this is to reward results not face time. I completely agree that such changes would be a huge step in moving the needle beyond 77 cents on the dollar.

Employers and employees would need to look at contributions in a different light for this to truly be effective.   The impact of work would overshadow the effort. I find this is easier said than done, based on my experience with clients and workshop attendees. We love to talk about the experience and effort of our work because that is what is most tangible to us. Impact beyond our own desk is much harder for employees to grasp and to communicate. The ability to communicate such impact would increase pay if I understand Goldin’s proposal correctly.

Let me share one example from a workshop attendee. She submitted her company for an industry award and the company won. She knew this was important but she was not sure how to quantify the importance. As readers of my blog know, I recommend putting a dollar figure on your best accomplishments to truly impact your pay. She was unable to put a dollar figure on this.   The company had never even applied for industry awards in the past so this truly was her initiating and implementing the idea.

Typically, employees would talk about the effort to get all the right information for the award submission from various departments in the company and making the deadline. That is more of a face time description, which is what Dr. Goldin, suggest (and I agree) we abandon. The impact of the award is much greater than the woman who did it imagine. Here is where there was impact:

Advertising: A press release was distributed and picked up by multiple media

$ Impact: Savings of placing advertisements in each of the media that picked up the story.

Marketing: Leads came in from people who read about the industry award.

$ Impact: Most companies know their cost per lead (CPL). This award just saved the company the CPL for each lead it received.

Sales:  Some of those leads turned into actual customers for the company.

$ Impact: Added revenue of the sales that came in as a direct result of the award won.

Sales: The industry award was added as part of the pitch to potential clients. The award would bolster credibility of the company and minimizes addressing such concerns from prospects.

$ Impact: Increased revenue from any increase in the percentage of closed leads or cost savings if the time to close shortened since the award was won.

The impact was quite impressive and extended beyond the desk and department of the woman who made it happen. It would be difficult for a non-sales professional to even think about increase in percentage of closed leads. It would e difficult for the non-marketer to think of cost per lead. It would be difficult for the non-advertiser to think of the costs of getting coverage in certain media. Yet, that is what I ask of my clients and workshop attendees and what Dr. Goldin is implicitly recommending in her paper. This requires each of us to look at our work beyond our handoff to the next department. One way to do this is to get friendly with such departments to truly understand the impact you make now and to see where there is room for further improvement.

One more point regarding Dr. Goldin’s recommendation about face time. It will take a great cultural change. Just this past week a professional baseball player, Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets, took 2 days off to be with his wife while she gave birth and to spend time with his new child. We call this paid paternity leave which only 14% of US companies offer. The backlash was swift and loud and speaks volumes of the obstacles we as a country still face in embracing equality in pay for women and equal support in family matters for men. Here’s to the day when both is reached.

Conscious Capitalism, Pay Raises, and Job Creep – Oh My

Even the best intentioned boss does not give out raises without some prodding.  Managers need to find and keep the best talent at the least amount of cost possible.  That is their responsibility to the company.  I know we like to think bosses who listen to the stories of our kids illness, take us to lunch, and create fun unity events, also ensure that our pay keeps up with the changes in the market.  That assumption could come back to haunt you.  Watch this video and find out how even the best of bosses are waiting for you to raise your hand to get a raise. 

A Job You Love for the Pay it is Worth

Find something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life.  That saying is a goal of many working people; me included.  Unfortunately,  many people I encounter as a salary negotiation teacher put so much focus on finding something that they love that they forget to make sure their pay is appropriate for the job.  The following video discusses how the intersection of the two truly is a better goal.

Real Accomplishments like Real Beauty

The Dove Real Beauty Sketches have hit a chord with people.  In less than two weeks, the video on YouTube has more than 28 million views, 92,000 likes, and 2,000 comments and numerous articles lauding or decrying the video.  For those who have yet to come across this campaign the video show a police sketch artist creating two versions of various women’s sketches.  The first version dictated by the description provide by the woman herself.  The second dictated by strangers who recently met the woman.  Invariable, the sketch created with the descriptions of strangers is more flattering across the board.  That’s no shock to most women.  Many of us are aware that we are our own worse critics yet the reminding of us of this lesson is very important.

Expert vs. Experienced

I find the same is true not only regarding physical beauty but also in business achievement.  This is so prevalent that in a fairly new web site established to help promote women as experts to the media called The Women’s Room needed to include a very telling caveat.

We also find that a lot of women who by any objective standard are experts, are putting themselves down as “experienced”, out of a wish not to blow their own trumpet. To clear things up, we’re giving you a definition of sorts. 

We have the two categories, because we want to change the perception of lived experience as somehow lesser than expertise. It’s not. It provides a valid viewpoint, and we think the media should speak to people who have experienced something as well as studied it – without acting like their experience is nothing more than anecdotal. 

As for who is an expert, well, Malcolm Gladwell says that an expert is someone with 10,000 hours’ experience in something. If we’re talking working days, that’s about 4-5 years. If we’re talking lived experience, that’s just over a year. So many more of you are experts than you think – and should sign up as such!

Downplaying Our Work Contributions

I encounter this same phenomenon when I work with clients on developing the business argument of why she deserves the higher end of the job’s pay range.  We start the process by having the client share one of the business accomplishment she is most proud.  Typically she starts with words like:

  • I assisted
  • I supported
  • I contributed to
  • I was part of a group

All of these expressions take away the personal contribution and demotes her contribution to a lower level than her peers.   It takes many attempts of drawing out the actual details of the accomplishment to typically find the individual woman has:

  • Developed a new best practice for the company
  • Contributed at a level far above her title
  • Directly affected the company’s profits in a positive manner

It is understandable that many women struggle to toot their own horns in the business world yet it is necessary to land the job, get paid appropriately, and to get well deserved promotions.  Perhaps women can take a page from the Dove Real Beauty experiment and talk to managers and colleagues about her accomplishments.  We may be shocked at how truly accomplished  others consider us.