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Gender Pay Gap Has Narrowed, but 18-Cent Shortfall Remains

Women have ground to cover to find pay equity.

March 24, 2021. Let that date sink in. It’s not the start of spring (although it’s only a few days off); it marks something more sobering. It’s the date into 2021 that women need to work through to earn what men did in 2020, dubbed Women’s Equal Pay Day.

Progress has been made, but not enough. The Equal Pay Today Campaign reports all women on average make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. That means for a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday schedule, women start working for free every day at 2:40 p.m. While the pay gap has narrowed from the 36-cent discrepancy that Pew Research Center reported in 1980, we still have work to do.

Is your employer female-friendly?

Short of pay transparency (which companies like Whole Foods, Buffer and SumAll offer), it can be difficult to know how your salary stacks up with colleagues and industry peers.

There are sites like Fairygodboss and InHerSight dedicated to sharing what women want to know about potential employers. Rated by women, they detail paid time off, flexible work hours, wellness initiatives, family growth support, management opportunities and sense of belonging, for example. Monster and Glassdoor also have lists they publish, like Top 50 Companies for Women, that spotlight female-friendly workplaces. And Working Mother and the National Association of Female Executives are good resources to learn about the types of support some companies provide female employees.

If you’re working for a small- or medium-sized business, there are some tell-tale signs of an equitable employer:

  • Generous maternity/family leave policies
  • Flexible working practices
  • High percentage of executives/board of directors are women
  • Women-focused employee resource groups (ERGs)
  • Positive user-generated social media posts by women (you can see these by identifying the company’s branded hashtag, like #LifeAtShopify, for example)

Stand out among the crowd

While the expectation shouldn’t be on you to overcome the pay gap, some things help you make the case for a higher salary.

First, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Start by learning how much your responsibilities garner by doing research on sites like PayScale. Then compile a detailed list of accomplishments and how you’ve incorporated feedback from management into your daily work. Show that you are knowledgeable about your worth.

Second, don’t settle. Continue learning and evolving your skill set. Volunteer for promotable projects. According to Harvard Business Review, women tend to volunteer for non-promotable projects (think: organizing the holiday party or serving on the employee engagement committee) more frequently than men. So, before saying “yes,” consider if the task will impact the company’s bottom line or get you in front of a decision-making executive. And when something goes right, take credit appropriately.

Next steps

If you think you deserve a pay raise:

  • Quantify your accomplishments
  • Know your worth and ask confidently
  • When you do receive a salary increase, consult your advisor on how to re-budget responsibly

Sources: time.com; fairygodboss.com; monster.com; workingmother.com; inhersight.com

Raymond James is not affiliated with any other entity listed herein.

Check the background of this firm/advisor on FINRA’s BrokerCheck.