4 steps women can take to close the pay gap

Actress Robin Wright has been making the news recently, for demanding equal pay as her male co-star in the serial House of Cards. And for getting her demand accepted.

“I was like: ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin (Spacey)’,” the actress is reported to have told the producers of the show, backing up her demand with data. “There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal..I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalised on it,” she reportedly said.

gender pay gap

In the work world, where starting salaries can be the result of negotiation and of historical precedent, equal work doesn’t necessarily equate to equal pay. Too often this inequality has a gender disparity. Simply put, women get paid less than men.

The recent Monster Salary Index shows up some staggering figures. The gender pay gap in India is 27%, which means that women get paid almost a third less than men. The differences are the highest in manufacturing (34.9%) and IT Services (34%). The lowest gender pay gap was recorded in the Banking and Financial Services and Transport, logistics, communication, equally standing at 17.7%.

Efforts to close the gap are a work in progress. In the meantime, here are four tips to bridge the pay gap.

Know the numbers 
Talk to other people in the industry for information on salaries. Know the benchmarks. What is the range of salaries? How much does the head of sales at an IT company make? How much does the departmental head of accounts at a manufacturing concern make in a year? Here is a resource to help you.  

So you are being paid less? List the reasons why 
• You assumed salaries weren’t a negotiating matter. You would be paid your worth. Negotiating for a higher pay would somehow jeopardise your chances of landing the job.
• Today you think you could have negotiated better but when you negotiated your starting salary, you didn’t. So whatever increments or raises you get are on a smaller base.
• You took a career break and came back at a lower salary.
• You moved into a more ‘flexible’ track with less travelling or late hours. Your job is considered ‘softer’, ‘less pressured’ and therefore paid less.

Are you being paid less than your male colleagues, for an equal contribution? 
If like actress Robin Wright, your value proposition and your ratings at work are as high as your male colleagues, you have a clear and demonstrable case for negotiating equal pay.

Prepare your pitch for equal pay
Make a reasoned argument by referring to the numbers. Describe your contribution, your individual strengths and everything else you bring to the table. Link your contribution to company numbers like sales, customer acquisition, financial or operational parameters, wherever possible.
Don’t be apologetic or half-hearted about asking for equal pay

You can pitch to be on par with other colleagues in many ways. But a rational approach will probably work more effectively than emotion or activism. Arm yourself with data. Be assertive but not aggressive. Anchor the negotiation by naming a number, based on your earlier research, that reflects what you are worth and also reflects equal pay for equal work.


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