Equal Pay Day is the symbolic day when women’s earnings “catch up” to men’s earnings from the previous year. Despite the Equal Pay Act, the gender pay gap persists; women are typically paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to men — and that number has barely budged in a decade. Think 80 cents is bad? The pay gap is even worse for women of color.
How You Can Use Your Network to Close the Gender Wage Gap
Last year, not taking into account age, race or intersectionality, women earned just 82 percent of what men earned. After I completed my bachelor’s degree I jumped at the first real job offer I received. It never crossed my mind to negotiate my starting salary or to question the pay levels in a field that is overwhelmingly dominated by women. What I was not prepared for was the ongoing effort it took me to incrementally move the needle on my own paycheck. It wasn’t until I hired a coach and started networking that I realized I had the power to begin to close my wage gap. Let me save you some sweat and agony. Here’s what I learned from this past job experience that you can put to use to improve your own paycheck starting today:
1. Understand Your Department’s Organizational Chart and Budgeting Process
When I started my current position I was fortunate to report to a director who was absolutely transparent as to what was, and wasn't, possible in the realm of hiring and pay. She was pleased that I negotiated, and worked with me to give me what she could – even when it wasn’t everything I had asked for.
2. Interview for Jobs, Even When You’re Not Looking for One
Why? Information is powerful. You can gain a lot of clarity around what is meaningful in the role you’re currently in (and what you need to be successful) during those interviews. A bigger paycheck is not always the answer to finding a more fulfilling career.
3. Maintain Strong Relationships with Your Colleagues in the Industry
The professional development network I have spent years cultivating is the network I turned to when I was making my career transition. Doors opened because people already knew me, and had no hesitation recommending me for interviews. Having colleagues who will take your call is truly priceless.
4. Your Next Role Will Likely Get You the Recognition You Deserve
You need to be visible and maintain a strong profile, as a “head down, doing good work” strategy is not going to change your paycheck. External recognition, both in your industry and outside of your functional area, will turn out to be the catalyst for upward career momentum.