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Life Ed: How Women Can Fight the Gender Pay Gap

Kim Keatings

The goal of Life Ed is simple: providing practical advice to help make life a little less complicated.

We begin with the gender pay gap and how to deal with pay inequity in your workplace.

Our guide is Kim Keating, the founder and managing director of human resources consulting firm Keating Advisors, and a seasoned veteran when it comes to all things compensation and negotiation. Here, she gives her guidance on getting your fair shake.

Kim Keating: When you discover a “gender pay gap,” it can feel like so much more than just a statistic. It can undermine your confidence and make you question your value. As an African-American woman working in finance, I have stood on the brink of the gender-pay gap and questioned my own worth. I learned to fight for myself and now I share this guidance so you can do the same.

Know The Law: The law prohibits compensation discrimination on the basis of gender, and it requires that men and women receive equal pay for equal work. [Ed. Note: Additional information on legal options available here.]

Do Your Homework: Be aware that education, experience and performance can all influence pay. Research the market salary for your position by using job postings or sites like Getraised.com and Payscale.com, or visit my website Keating Advisors for an individual salary report. Be sure you make “apples to apples” comparisons: look at organizations of the same size in the same industry and same location.

Map Your Skills: Next, build the case for yourself. Map your skills to show how your work benefits the company and how it compares to your colleagues. Be honest in assessing yourself.

Meet with Your Manager: Schedule a meeting with your manager. I recommend using the three C’s of Negotiation Strategy: Clarity, Communication, and Common Ground:

  • Clarity: Be clear about what you want and deserve and let your research do the talking. If you get push back on your data, don’t be afraid to ask your manager where they got their numbers. And be prepared to show where you got yours.
  • Communication: Be pleasant, confident, principled, and don’t take things personally. Anticipate your manager’s possible objections and plan your responses in advance. Also, think about the language and tone your manager uses and mirror it.
  • Common Ground: Negotiation is not a competition. It should be a win-win opportunity for both sides. When a manager can’t give you what you want, suggest alternatives such as a bonus, additional time-off, or a higher title.

Don’t Give Up

If you don’t get what you want, let your manager know how important it is to you, and ask for another meeting in three to six months. This lets your manager know that you’re not giving up.