Ladies, Close the Income Gap

Sadly it’s true; even in 2012, women still make less money than their male counterparts in the workplace in Canada as confirmed by the Parliament of Canada and Conference Board of Canada.

If you’re ready to close the income gap and earn more in your role, follow these 4 tips:

1. Communicate clearly. Women often shy away from tooting their own horn at work. But ladies, you have to in order to get ahead financially. The key to earning more hinges on your ability to effectively communicate your successes to the decision makers in your organization. Before you blurt out how great your talents are, consider your audience and the timing of your message. Push for regular monthly or quarterly performance reviews where you can communicate your accomplishments in private. Be clear, confident and stick to the facts. It’s helpful to write out what you want to say in advance of any performance discussion.

2. Add value. Many Canadian organizations have ‘pay for performance’ compensation systems whereby employees are rewarded based on their performance. If you’re posturing yourself for a raise, ensure that your work contributes to the success of your organization. Better yet, find ways to save money and build your company’s bottom line through higher revenues and lower costs.

3. Invest in your education and skills. Wondering whether post-secondary education is a good investment? Considering 75 per cent of future jobs will require a post-secondary education, the answer is YES! Plus, according to the National Graduates Survey (Statistics Canada), when you invest in any type of post-secondary education, your long-term income-earning ability is a few hundred thousand dollars to over a million dollars greater than a high school graduate’s.

Research has also shown that educated women not only earn more money, but also enjoy a higher quality of life because they have more choices in terms of their career opportunities and lifestyle.

Whether you hit the books or not, develop skills that will give you a competitive edge and make you difficult to replace. Competitive skill sets provide leverage when salary negotiations take place.

4. Ask for a raise. In the words of my late grandfather “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 33 per cent of people, especially women, say they’re freaked out about salary negotiations, so they don’t pursue it. Yet, 80 per cent of recruiters and managers are willing to negotiate. Prepare yourself to ask for a raise. Even an extra $1,000 can help you build your net worth.

To do this:

Stick to the facts. Research comparable salaries for comparable jobs where you live. Use websites like Monster.ca, Workopolis, or Payscale.com. If you belong to an association or alumni group, check whether they’ve got research on salaries and benefits you can review. Salary is only one part of a total compensation package– there are other factors to consider such as benefits, stock options, and retirement plans.

Set Goals. Once you’ve got your facts straight, set a realistic goal before you go in for negotiations. Perhaps you want a raise of 3 to 5 per cent. Or, you may wish to focus on a number like $5,000.

Negotiate. Don’t barge into your boss’s office asking for a raise after they’ve had a hectic day. Wait until you’ve both got some time to sit down and talk. It’s also nice to give your boss a heads-up about nature of the discussion so that they can prepare. They may need to consult with an HR advisor about salary and benefit policies. Another optimal time to discuss a raise is during a performance review.

Be collaborative. Don’t beg or whine and avoid making unquantifiable statements or comparisons. Be professional. Focus the conversation on how valuable your contributions are to the organization.

Hint: if you want more money, you’re probably going to have to take on more responsibility.

Similar to raises, closing the income gap between men and women will take time. Be realistically patient and use the time to sharpen your skills. Going forward, do everything you can to enhance your personal brand and contribution to the success of your organization. This way, you’ll be more marketable in good times and bad.

Follow Lesley on Twitter @LesleyScorgie.

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One Response to Ladies, Close the Income Gap

  1. john john says:

    Sometimes the income gap comes down to personal choices. For example, women *may* be opting to work in industries that are on average, lower-paying –> e.g. social work; non-profit; charities.

    Also, what about life choices too? Perhaps care-giving responsibilities still fall more on women and hence they opt to work part-time or make career choices around that.

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