The inequality between the income levels of men and women is growing, with the Australian Bureau of Statistic figures show the gender pay gap has widened to a 10-year high.
Melbourne-based people management specialist Karen Gately says that while employers and governments need to lead the way in driving change, women too have a significant role to play, and it starts by speaking out. 'Taking a stance against discrimination is an important step, but far too many women are hesitant to speak up; many shy away from asking for the opportunities and rewards they deserve. This needs to change!"
Karen says that simply waiting for your employer to recognise your efforts and fairly reward your contributions is a hit and miss strategy, and provides her tips for navigating an awkward pay rise conversation:
Know what you want
Understand what you want to earn and why. Have a clear view of how your role, experience or contribution justifies the need for you to earn more than you already do. Look for information that will support your claim that you are underpaid relative to others in a similar role.
Believe you deserve to be treated fairly
Know that you are doing the right thing by challenging what you earn and asking for more. Enter into the conversation with confidence that you not only deserve to be better compensated for your efforts but that it's reasonable to raise your concerns.
Be up front
Speak with conviction and be firm in your expectations that steps be taken to improve your income. Articulate how your role, and you in it, both make a difference to the success of the business. Understand your facts and avoid the temptation to be apologetic for raising the issue.
Outline your concerns and expectations
Share the value of your role and how your experience and capabilities compare to your peers. Focus on your own worth and why you should be paid more competitively. Avoid debates about the specifics of what others earn. Focus on what is fair compensation for you in your role.
Remain calm and professional irrespective of how your employer reacts. While voting with your feet and leaving your organisation may ultimately be what needs to happen to improve your circumstances, negotiations are rarely helped with aggressive demands or threats.
Argue with reason
Like any negotiation you are more likely to achieve the desired outcome if your expectations and requests are reasonable. Be willing to listen and consider your employers point of view while remaining firm in your stance for a more equitable reward and recognition for your efforts.
Agree next steps
Don't expect your manager will be either willing or able to give you an immediate response. Allow them the opportunity to reflect on your request and come back to you. Ask that they commit to meeting with you again to discuss the issue further after they have had the opportunity to consider.
Karen Gately is the founder of Ryan Gately, a specialist HR consultancy practice and author of The People Manager's Toolkit, recently published by Wiley. For more information visit www.karengately.com.au.
Question: Why did you decide to write The People Manager's Toolkit?
Karen Gately: The many years I have spent working with people has convinced me that the human spirit is the key to achieving outstanding results in business " that is results that generate not only business value and shareholder returns, but also positive outcomes for communities and environments in which businesses operate.
Enabling businesses to thrive while having a positive impact on the world requires leaders to make better decisions, build healthier relationships and more effectively leverage the talent and energy of their teams to drive results. I believe the world needs leaders to step up and lead with greater compassion and accountability.
This belief underpinned the decision I made to write The People Manager's Toolkit, together with my first book, The Corporate Dojo: achieving extraordinary results through spirited people. In a world cluttered with complicated management literature both are intended to be an easily applied guide to getting the best from people and optimizing business results.
Question: How can we take a stance against discrimination within our workplace?
Karen Gately: The simple truth we are powerless to change any undesirable reality unless we choose to take a stance and speak up. Staying silent is never a good choice when the person or people in question are undermining your wellbeing or success at work. While it can at times take a great deal of courage, it's critical that you find the strength to voice your concerns.
If you are subjected to or witness cases of discrimination, where appropriate let people know directly how their behaviour impacts you, other people and the organisations ability to succeed as a team. If you don't feel comfortable or able to do that raise your concerns with your manager, HR or another member of the leadership team you trust.
Be a positive contributor and recognise your own biases whether they be conscious or otherwise. Take responsibility for the impact your own beliefs and attitudes have on the decisions you make and how you behave.
Question: What advice do you have for staying motivated in the workplace?
Karen Gately: The strength of our spirit, that is the reserve of positive energy we at any given point in time, has a profound impact on how we think, feel and ultimately behave. The most common influencers on our energy reserves and therefore motivation to strive at work include the quality of our relationships, sense of personal value, belief in the future and our ability to influence that future.
Just as important are the sense of purpose, meaning and enjoyment we find in our work. Reflect for a moment on draining or energizing impacts of roles you have taken on. Having fun doing what we do gives us energy, while slogging through tasks we find tedious and meaningless drains us of the energy we need to thrive at work and more broadly in life.
Choose to do what you love with people you enjoy. Work in a job and for an organisation that energises your spirit and inspires you to want to be the best possible version of yourself. Motivation comes from desire – find the reason you want to be successful and you are more likely to find the strength of energy you need to get there.
Interview by Brooke Hunter