Earn More Girl, The Mobile App

screenshot ipad 3I am thrilled to announce a new tool for your salary research.  It’s the Earn More Girl mobile app for iPhone and iPad.  Some time ago I wrote a blog post about salary research and how the results set us up to aim too low.  How could that be you ask?  Well, we want salaries similar to men but the classic salary range results incorporate men and women’s salaries.  The resulting target salary you select such as the median will be lower than the median salary for men working in the job.

Target the Salary Men Earn

Here’s a little math word problem for you:  if the median salary for a project manager in Dallas, TX is $85,575 what would be the median salary for men working in Dallas, TX as project managers?  Earn More Girl will tell you!  Simply enter your target salary and select the job.  Earn More Girl uses the job categories that the US Dept. of Labor uses.  All jobs are categorized under five main groups:

  1. Management, Professional, and Related Occupations
  2. Service Occupations
  3. Sales and Office Occupations
  4. Natural Resources, Construction, and Maintenance Occupations
  5. Production, Transportation, & Material Moving Occupation

Using Earn More Girl Mobile App

Start by entering your target salary then select one of the five categories from above and drilldown to your specific job.  There are 135 jobs and job categories included in Earn More Girl.    To get the most accurate results select the closest category if you are unable to find your specific job or keep at the default if you are unsure of the best option.

The answer to the question above is $94,610.  So if you think you are average (which you are not) and you want to earn the median salary for the job instead of targeting $85,575 you should target $94,610.  That’s $9,000 more than you would have using just conventional salary research tools.  Aim higher and that gender salary gap will start to shrink.

How does Earn More Girl do it?  The gender pay gap continues to be stalled at 77% overall but it differs for various jobs according to Dept. of Labor stats.  Earn More Girl uses the gender pay gap for the occupation and the breakdown of men and women who work in that job to calculate your true target salary.

Personal Pay Gap

You can check out your personal pay gap as well.  Enter you current salary and select your job.  Earn More Girl will tell you what you probably would be making if you were a man based on the gender pay gap for your job.

Earn More Girl is free and will calculate your Personal Pay Gap.   Earn More Girl Pro will calculate your Personal Pay Gap and True Target Salary.  Earn More Girl Pro costs $1.99. Both versions are for jobs in the US and are currently available.

I look forward to getting your feedback on the app.

Pay Equally is to Drive Safely as…

The Election is Over, Now Back to Work

Women made up 53% of last week’s voters and 55% of those women voted for President Obama.  Come January there will be 20 women in the senate and 78 in congress.  Women definitely have a huge impact on our elections and are having a growing number of seats at the political table.  I trust that with this growth, the issue of the gender salary gap will continue to be addressed until it is corrected.  Until now, our Equal Pay laws have been a bit like having Drive Safely laws.  With women flexing more  political muscle it is time to change this approach.

Laws are About Actions

Photo credit: iStock Photography

Thirty-nine states ban texting while driving.  All roads have maximum and minimum driving speeds.  Stops signs must be adhered.  No driving under the influence. In Massachusetts the car in the rotary has the right of way.  For those outside of Massachusetts you may know a rotary as a roundabout or a traffic circle.   Please remember this when you visit my lovely home state.  Regardless, note that each of these laws requires or bans specific actions.  All of these laws share one overarching goal – eliminate accidents aka Drive Safely. The heartache and financial loss of unsafe driving has been too severe.   Addressing the issue and to continually adjusting as new challenges such as texting rear their ugly head has been critical to minimize injuries, deaths, loss of property, loss of work productivity, and more.

Unfortunately, some people may follow every single law to the letter and still have an accident.  Luckily for everyone on the road, other people may break multiple driving laws and still arrive home safe and sound.  Whether or not they are arrested or ticketed is not decided on the end result – safe passage or unsafe passage – but on actions taken or ignored.

Unequal pay creates heartache and financial loss as well. The average working woman stands to lose $380,000 because of the pay disparities and for some women it can be as high as $2 million during a lifetime.  American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) recent report Graduating to a Pay Gap states  “one-third of the (gender pay) gap remains unexplained” while the gap itself has become stagnant in recent years.  The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) chart below shows that women were making roughly 80% of men’s earnings in 2011 whether you look at the pay gap by weekly median income or annual median income.  This is in comparison to 65% in 1955.  That is just an increase of 15% points in 56 years.

Equal Pay Laws Focus on Results

The slow progress to-date indicates that changes are needed for any hope of eliminating the gender pay gap within the next 50 years.  Even better would be quicker results that give women working today a chance to reap the benefits of their success instead of our daughters or granddaughters being the first to benefit.

Currently laws we have regarding equal pay do focus on the goal and not on actions.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) signed by President Kennedy states:

No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex: Provided, That an employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee. We have the Lilly Ledbetter Law of 2009 signed by President Obama.  We have the Fair Pay Act sitting in Congress without it coming to up for vote. 

Since the passing of the EPA some progress has been made but it has been very difficult to get beyond 80%.  As a country we have been hovering around 80% since 2003. The allowable exceptions (in bold above) to the EPA are broad enough (i.e. any other factor) that employers who are purposefully discriminating can ensure they have an argument if sued and employers who are acting in good faith may still have the end result of their female employees being paid less than their male employees.

In 2009 President Obama showed his commitment to equal pay by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.   The law is written to lengthening the time allowed to sue an employer should a woman find herself paid unequally to her male colleagues but it does not address minimizing the gender pay gap.  The law states:

‘(3)(A) For purposes of this section, an unlawful employment practice occurs, with respect to discrimination in compensation in violation of this title, when a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted, when an individual becomes subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, or when an individual is affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid, resulting in whole or in part from such a decision or other practice.

Time for Equal Pay Laws to Focus on Actions

There is research after research regarding the gender pay gap with common themes and recommendations appearing and reappearing.  Such research has shown actions during and after the hiring process that do promote equal pay and other actions that do not promote equal pay.

Job Openings Should Include Salaries

For example, AAUW’s Graduating to a Pay Gap recommends “increase in transparency in pay systems” as one essential step to eliminate the gender pay gap. A great start to transparency would be to require posting the minimum pay or pay range for jobs that are publicly advertised in newspapers, job boards, corporate web sites, etc. Currently many jobs are posted without any salary information. How often have you applied for a job with no clue as to the amount it will pay?  Typically companies pay outside consultants, purchase detailed databases, or hire internal compensation specialists to research market values of jobs, determine appropriate salary ranges and compensation packages.  Yet, companies put the burden on individuals who do not have the same resources to state their desired salary.  This desired salary then becomes the high mark for the salary unless the individual so underestimated the market that the company needs to pay them more just to be in the acceptable salary range for the job.   According to research done by Universum, a capital talent company, female MBA students anticipate earning less then male MBA students anticipate.  Both the ladies and the men prove to be right about what they will earn.

Putting gender aside – how does having the candidate name the salary attribute to equal pay for any employees?  This process ensures unequal pay among colleagues and not based on ability, education, or experience but based on one number stated during the interview process.

Pay Secrecy Should Not Be Allowed

Salary confidentiality continues the lack of pay transparency post hiring.  Research by the IWPR shows that the gender pay gap and pay secrecy are more prevalent in the private sector than the public sector. According to the IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security, only 18% of women in public sector jobs experienced pay secrecy while 62% of women in private sector jobs experienced it.  Such secrecy may have a causal effect on the gender pay gap.  Even if it has no effect on the creation of the gender pay gap, it handcuffs any individual from approaching management to rectify the matter should she discover inequity in pay. Salary non-disclosure agreements typically have a “cause for dismissal” clause and thus it leaves people with three options when they discover others are making more doing the same job.  The options are 1) to accept the low pay in silence; 2) risk being fired for approaching management; or 3) start looking for a new job at a new company.  It is time to eliminate this practice that restrains employees from addressing unfair pay.

Salary Histories Should Not Be Considered

Questions about salary history during the hiring process are another means to perpetuate a gender salary gap.  A women who was underpaid in a previous job will never be able to jump up to the level of pay men are making if future salaries take into consideration past salaries.  One means to eliminate this contributing factor would be to the prohibition of salary history as a requirement when completing a job application both in hardcopy and electronic forms. Recruiters have told me that salary history does not provide any information that cannot be gained through other means such as questions of experience and achievements and review of the resume.

Take Action to Focus on Actions

Congressional Class of 2013, I ask you to look at the gender salary gap differently and consider laws that focus on specific actions.  Voters, employees, and women if you agree that it’s time to stop saying Pay Equally and time to focus on actions, please sign my Salary Inclusion to Promote Equality Petition.  I am sure that implementing this type of change will get better results than 15% points in 55 years.  Heck it can’t be worse.

Copyright 2012 by Katie Donovan

Best Companies for Women Lists Miss The Mark

I do not agree with any of the Best Companies for Women to Work Lists that I have found.  Some of the lists that I disagree with are:

Each of these list are created by organizations with great business perspective.  Each list has its own methodology to decide the companies. The methodology may differ for each but often there is a very long questionnaire for the companies to submit.  The number of questions is typically greater than 200.   Yet regardless of the selection method, none of the lists consider companies’ gender pay gaps. To me that seems a bit on par with “But how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

From my perspective the main reason we work (male or female) is to earn money. If you agree with that premise than shouldn’t the first criteria for a Good Company for Women be how the women are paid?  The Gender Pay Gap is alive and kicking and yet we give praise to companies that may be paying women at a rate lower than men.

Earning Equal Pay May Not Be A Priority

The fact that we cannot answer whether a company is paying women on par with men highlights one reason women have not made more progress in the nearly 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act.  To our own detriment, women consider the financial aspect of a job as a secondary or tertiary factor in the job. We are blinded by the less expensive alternatives to equal pay such as a mentor program or telecommuting or flextime.  All these benefits are great and I highly recommend them but I don’t recommend having them instead of equal pay.

A statement in Working Mother’s 2011 report, Career vs. Paycheck: The Working Mother Report illustrates the fact. 

     Moms surveyed say that a flexible schedule is trumped only by stability and security when they look for a new job.

Pay does not even make the top three priorities of a job considered by working mothers based on Working Mother’s research.   Is there a term for 4th level consideration?  Pay isn’t secondary or tertiary.  Pay is a quartic priority!   It becomes even more unexpected when you consider 38% of working mothers are the primary wage earners for their family.  I too like having a career instead of working for a paycheck yet there must be a way to marry the benefits of the two.

Back to the Best Companies for Women Lists

Companies work hard to get on these lists.  As mentioned before, many companies want to get on such lists and welcome the vetting process to get on the lists. They openly strive to attract women employees.   How much emphasis do you think a company will put on equal pay if companies who work hard to attract women do not have to indicate they are paying women equally?  To be clear, I am not stating that each company is or isn’t paying fairly.  I’m stating that we do not know.  I’m stating that we are not reinforcing the requirement of equal pay as a base line of acceptability.

Somewhere there are companies that pay women on par with men AND have some kick-ass benefits as well.  I challenge the next group of Best Lists to incorporate equal pay as an important element of the vetting process.    Perhaps if the lists highlight equitable pay then women and companies will move equal pay up the priority list.

@ Copyright 2012 by Katie Donovan

A Petition to Eliminate the Gender Pay Gap

Back in the fall Kate Bryant, a director filming Pay Gap reached out to me via LinkedIn. She wanted to interview me and film a presentation I was scheduled to do for the Women in Construction of Boston about the Gender Pay Gap. How exciting – I was to be on film!

The Question That Started My Petition

Kate asked one question that began an odyssey for me.

“What other legislation do you think is necessary to bring about a complete transformation?”

Kate’s question prompted me to think in terms of politics. My father, uncle, grandfather, and great grandfather all who were elected officials would be appalled that I hadn’t thought in such terms before this question. Now that I was thinking of policy, my mind was spinning. Like most of my great ideas, I woke up with the kernel of an idea for a new law. The kernel has been researched, discussed, drafted, and revised over the months. Now, I’m ready to introduce the idea to the world and ask for your support.

Salary Disclosure to Promote Equality Act

The idea has developed into the Salary Disclosure to Promote Equality Act. The petition asks congress to create and pass an act that would:

  • Requires inclusion of the pay range for all job postings for public and private sector jobs
  • Removes the requirement for most candidates to be subject to a credit check
  • Disallows a requirement for applicants to share salary history
  • Prohibits past employers from sharing a previous employee’s salary history
  • Allows employees within the same company to share salary information without fear of dismissal

Candidates and employees of both genders are on unequal footing with employers when negotiating pay. The employer knows the salary range for the job and your salary history. Candidates and employees usually do not know the salary range for the job. This act would eliminate this disadvantage for all Americans and better position men and women to negotiate the true value they bring to any job. Ultimately, this will minimize the gender pay gap.

Your Support is Needed

Please support the Salary Disclosure to Promote Equality Act by signing the petition and sharing it with your network of friends, families, co-workers, and acquaintances and virtual networks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Follow the link to read more details of the act and sign the petition.