Posted by: Dr. Carolyn Edwards | August 7, 2012

Ask Dr. E – Should Women Demand Equal Pay?

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Dr. E I am a human resources coordinator at a bank in California. I have been here over ten years and have only earned about a 1% pay increase each year. I have a master’s degree in business. A male colleague just hired is a recent college graduate with only two years of experience and is getting a salary higher than mine. I know this because I process all the new hire paperwork. What should I do? I am unhappy about the pay but in this recession, should I be happy that I still have a job or speak with management about my salary? Unhappy in CA.

Dear unhappy, you are not alone, according to a Forbes Article, “Nationally, women who work full time are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. African-American women are paid 62 cents, and Latinas are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to men. The gap has been closing at a rate of less than half a cent per year since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963.  At this rate, women’s pay will not catch up to men for another 40 years.”

Even though the statistics are staggering, that does not mean your pay has to stay below the norm. My suggestion is to communicate with superiors why you have earned and deserve a raise. Put together a presentation with all the accomplishments made over the years, include any client/employee references or testimonials of how you provided exemplary service. Show your employer that you are an asset to the team and how your pay is not on par with the national average or company standards.

Use facts and statistics to support your request and make a compelling argument; don’t focus on feelings, emotions or perceptions.   Business leaders look at the bottom line and the mission, vision or goals of the company.

Do not focus on what your counterpart received since salary many times is supposed to be confidential and most often we are not privy to all they did to accomplish their promotion or salary increase.

Put your energy and efforts on demonstrating how you are an asset to the company in helping to achieve objectives.  Although we are still in a recession, many companies are currently making huge profits so don’t be afraid to ask. All they can say is no. Nothing beats a failure by a try.


Good luck, Dr. E


Dr. Carolyn Edwards is a  life & career management coach, author and  professor.

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