May 4, 2012

Five Tips for Women: Earn What You’re Worth!

“You’ve come a long way, baby.”

Consider this: It hasn’t been even 100 years since women have been allowed to vote in United States elections (the nineteenth amendment was passed in 1920), but in this election year, women will decide who will be our next president. Even as I write this, the candidates are strategizing how to woo the women’s vote. Moreover, how to best communicate to women that they fully understand that an economic gender gap exists. They “feel your pain.” (Oops, that was another election.)

All joking aside, let’s be clear: a gender gap does indeed exist. Despite out-earning men in part-time positions, women still lag in earnings for full-time positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women’s earnings per dollar of a man’s was $1.04 part-time and 81 cents full-time.

“I’ve never had a woman ask for a raise,” said advertising executive Donny Deutsch a few weeks ago on Morning Joe. The chairman of Deutsch Inc. (you may know him from “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch”) says that women just aren’t assertive enough about asking for more. I think we’d all pretty much agree that most women don’t challenge what they’re worth. In fact, women tend to undervalue what they’re worth.

The foundation of corporate America has been built on a patriarchal hierarchy.

However, if women are going to permeate this hierarchical and competitive culture, they need to start being more assertive in the workplace and demanding their fair share. Here are five ideas for how to ask for a raise:

  1. Find out what your position typically pays. If you think that you should be earning more, do a little research first. Sites like salary.com and payscale.com allow you to compare your salary based on your qualifications and job description.
  2. Make a list of your accomplishments. No one else will. It’s up to you to keep a record of your job successes. In fact, it’s crucial if you want to negotiate a higher salary. For instance, I’m sure that Peyton Manning’s agent had a list in hand of the quarterback’s on-field achievements when he negotiated Peyton’s contract with the Denver Broncos.
  3. Make sure that your petition is timely. If your company has been laying off employees or has suffered losses in the marketplace during this recession, you may want to wait to ask for a raise until your company is on better footing.
  4. Ask for a meeting. Petitioning your boss for a raise at the water cooler isn’t the best idea. No one likes to react. Instead, request a meeting and state approximately how much time you’ll need. Don’t say, “Could I have a minute with you next Tuesday?” and then end up taking 20 minutes.
  5. Ask for what you want. And clearly explain why you’re worth it. Practice your “commercial” several times before your meeting. You’ll be better prepared, less nervous and more confident.

I once had the privilege to be invited to a baby shower and I was amazed how the women worked together. They all had an initial assigned task; food, decorations, etc. But it was how they worked together on the unassigned tasks (food service, clean up, etc.) which amazed me. They all cooperated and worked as a team and no one task was superior to any other. Unlike men, no one bragged how much better their baby shower and gifts were! Too bad the business world is controlled by the patriarchal hierarchy it might be a better and fairer world if the women were in charge.

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Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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