#EqualPayDay – 4 Conversations to close the Pay Gap

There is an elephant in the room with an invisibility cloak on – the Pay Gap. In the years that I have handled Human Resources, I have never found any systemic divide in the determination of pay for the genders. No matter how probable it seems, the evil elves are not sitting behind the copier machine in the dark backroom, slotting away our pay ranges according to our biological typing. And yet, pay gap exists, even as compensation departments break their heads over objectivity. Two individuals, with similar job experiences and comparable performance histories, are sitting at different points in the pay range – the man almost always ahead of the woman by a neat mile. It is time women have the necessary conversations to close the pay gap.

According to the Monster© Salary Index 2015 (Read the full report here), on an average, men earn ₹259.8 per hour whereas female colleagues earn just ₹190.5, i.e. about 27% less

What is really going on here?

Of course, there are multiple factors leading to the outcome. But the one controllable factor that I want to address today is the self-sabotage that women do every day in the workplace, by avoiding key conversations. While the syndrome is not entirely gendered, it does present itself significantly more among women than among their male counterparts.

Below are a few conversations that (most) men have with their organizations that (most) women don’t, or have sparingly at best:

#1 “Thanks for the offer. I want to understand my compensation in detail before I accept this. Who can walk me through the nitty-gritty?”

Ok, this is a big one and just the first of, hopefully, a much longer set of questions.

A Salary.com study has indicated that only 30% of women negotiate their salaries when accepting an offer while 46% of the men do.

When the Blank Slate team asked the pointed question to a multitude of working professionals across the globe, 65% of the men mentioned they negotiate their salaries, while only 28% of the women did the same. At best, women tend to ask for a percentage hike on their current CTC. The question above can help us to do a lot more than that. Different organizations define CTCs differently. It is important to understand exactly how that quoted magic figure would break down on our pay-slips. What would be the fixed component, what are the variables, what is the performance management system, what is the historical payout of bonuses in the organization? These are a few follow up questions that can help us ensure that we are indeed moving our pay commensurately to our potential.

One thing must be remembered – the person across the table from you has been given one job – to make you accept the offer at the lowest point (of the pay range) possible. If you refrain from clearing your doubts, you run the risk of being pegged low on the range.

A low starting salary often explains the lag, later in the career. Remember, almost everything is negotiable!

#2 “I have done an excellent job in this performance cycle. I am expecting a promotion/raise/change in role. Can you explain how to ensure I get that?”

Men are actually anal about this, excuse my French. Even if that first statement is kind of an exaggeration for the individual. Most women I have counseled, on the other hand, tend to believe that if they are doing a great job, the system will notice their contribution and do the needful.

60% of the men surveyed by Blank Slate said they demanded performance conversations throughout the year, the corresponding number for the women surveyed was 29%.

Honey, newsflash – nobody is better at keeping a tab on your contributions than you are. In the corporate, if you are not making a fuss about your achievements, you are probably not worth noting. Talk about your work with people, please!

Also, hear successful men talk about their careers – they don’t shy away from the word ‘I’.

Use the word proudly instead of ‘we’, ‘the team’, ‘all of us’. I am not advising you to steal credit. But, be kind to yourself where you truly are the primary flag bearer.

#3 “I am stagnating and need the help of a mentor. Who in the system could help me?”

Actually, only the very best ask this question often enough. I am not even delving into the phenomenal learning and personal growth one can experience with a good mentor. Right now I am talking about the need to have a successful person sponsor your journey through the system.

Networking, beyond your immediate circle at work, is crucial to ensure that you are considered for the incremental changes in either pay or opportunities.

Read about: Networking is the fun way to a fast career track!

Especially, since women are relatively newer and fewer in the corporate, it does a world of good to have a mentor. The more people know you, the lesser the resistance to better pay packages for you – capisce amigo?

#4 “What more/new could I do to progress my career? How will you compensate me differentially?”

The Monster© Salary Index 2015 found a gaping chasm between the number of men and women holding supervisory positions.

Of the surveyed population, the supervisory roles were held by 86% men and only a meager 14% women.

This is stark, considering that the surveyors stratified and gender-weighted the sample. Men often rise quickly to a new challenge at work. They worry much lesser about the consequences of plunging into a zone of discomfort. Women judge themselves by much more stringent measures. They refrain from taking on additional responsibilities or newer challenges. Sometimes, they enjoy the coziness of the rut. This is also accentuated by the facts that women take career breaks when they are ready for supervisory roles. They are also less likely to be selected or promoted to a supervisory position.

But, now consider this, even those handful of women who do manage to break the glass ceiling and reach a supervisory position, earn ₹77 less an hour on average compared to their male counterparts.

Most women who are given the responsibility feel deep gratitude for the selection. They often avoid any further negotiation with the organization. Most men, in that position, would find this imprudent.

So, there you go ladies! It is not enough to be good at what you do. It is important to be able to demand the just rewards. Such is our cruel world. So, sharpen those killer instincts and book a few conversations at work this week, what say? Comment or write to us at editor@blankslatechronicles.com.



Anumita Ghosh

Anumita believes her calling has to do with the written words. She loves to write and read, and has recently given up a(n) (almost) rocking career in the Corporate to pursue her passion. Yes, she is slightly off her rocker, but then the society has been largely accepting of her madness. She is the co-founder of Blank Slate Chronicles and a struggling domestic apprentice, not to mention a loving (yet inadequately skilled) mother to a toddler.

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