Dawn Lyon talks to Moneyish about the importance of negotiating.
As part of a series to mark Equal Pay Day, Moneyish asked some prominent women to share their thoughts and experiences around equal pay. Read more here.
As an intern coming out of college, I had someone give me some pretty solid advice that I’ve carried through my entire career: Always negotiate.
Talking about pay has long been taboo. Pay is not part of the curriculum in school, nor how to negotiate or know you’re paid fairly. So that was really important for me to have someone very early on instill that it doesn’t matter what experience level I was. I always had the opportunity to negotiate.
Later on, I was working as a manager in my 20s. I knew I was being paid considerably less than my counterparts with a lot more experience. So having that voice in the back of my head from when I interned, I gathered what information I could about what the market was paying for my role. I took the data into a conversation with my boss. And it resulted in a promotion, and a pretty substantial pay increase. I wonder, if I had not gone through those motions, how long would it have taken for my pay to catch up to my performance level?
You have to learn to be your strongest advocate. If you wait for people to advocate for you, you may be waiting way too long. The worst thing that can happen is you can be told no, and that’s not career-defining or career-shortening.
So that has always been in the back of my mind, and I try to pay it forward and encourage others. I’m really pleased to see women around me come back to me and give me feedback that it’s working.
I’ve been working with the founders of Glassdoor since it launched in 2008, and I believe in the mission of bringing more transparency to work. Information is powerful, so we are creating more tools and resources to help illuminate what people are paid, and make it really easy to find if there are pay gaps or if there are opportunities to be paid more. We rarely encounter a company that is explicitly focused on pay discrimination. We’re announcing on Equal Pay Day that we have over 3,000 companies on Glassdoor that have taken an equal pay pledge committing to paying people equitably, equal pay for equal work and experience.
We did a survey asking workers if they ever negotiated. About 52% of men said they did not negotiate, compared to 68% of women. So if all the men are asking for raises, who is at a disadvantage when it comes to review time? Women.
You don’t have to give your prior salary in a job interview. If women are typically paid less, and if companies are asking for prior salary history in order to know where to make an offer, then this is also perpetuating the problem. I just had a colleague who was asked, “Well what are you making now?” And she said, “I really prefer not to get into that specifically, and rather focus on what the compensation is for this particular role.” And she stopped them dead in their tracks … and ended up getting $40,000 more than she was making at her current level. She took control of the conversation and focused on what she thought she was worth.
So this isn’t just an HR issue. This is hiring managers, this is people being very sensitive to how we interact and how we approach compensation. These are the things that can quickly allow bias, even though it’s unintended, to creep into an organization, and we all have to stop that. But you still need to advocate for yourself.
Dawn Lyon is vice president of corporate affairs and chief equal pay advocate at Glassdoor, a job recruiting site and database of company reviews and salary reports.
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