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I was horrified to learn I am paid less than male colleagues – how do I reduce the gap?

  • Publish Date: Posted over 6 years ago
  • Author:by Michelle Murphy

Question: With all the talk about the gender pay gaps in the news recently, I started to wonder if my pay was on a par with my male colleagues so I did a bit of asking around.

I was horrified to find out that not only was my pay substantially less than my male counterparts, it was also fairly significantly less than one more junior male member of my team – a person who I manage. I have found it hard to bite my tongue, but I have no idea how to tackle the issue as we do not have pay scales at work and I only found out the differences as I started asking. How should I broach this with my boss?

Answer: I can imagine this was a great shock and I would hope that, in this day and age, you are in a minority as many companies have started to address gender pay differences and are being proactive in ensuring that pay scales are in place.

There should be no discrepancies between male and female workers in the same role and I would suggest all companies review pay to ensure there are no obvious gaps. The safest way is to tie in pay scales directly to market value for the role at hand, which leaves a narrow range for negotiation and addresses unfair pay gaps.

Organisations should conduct annual pay-equity analysis to ensure pay is in line with relevant variables such as market value, employee experience, annual performance reviews, etc.

Some companies are introducing total ‘pay transparency’, which allows everyone to be aware of what their counterparts are earning; forcing organisations to establish a meritocracy so those who are most productive get paid the most. Some tech companies are already implementing these strategies and I think this will soon become the norm.

However, in the meantime, here are some pointers to consider when broaching a discussion with your employer:

Research: Conduct basic research to find out market rates in similar job roles so you can address the difference between manager and subordinate.

Know your worth: Be ready for a discussion around your worth. Be ready to list your achievements and consider what you’ve done to meet objectives, new initiatives you brought to the table, and projects you managed – they are all your unique selling points (USPs) that others may not have put their hands up to take on!

Establish ground: Think about the final figure you feel is equitable. You can start the discussion on a slightly higher figure, as often a company will want to negotiate to meet in the middle.

Discuss: Ask your employer to highlight the comparators and assess why there is a difference in pay between you and male counterparts.

Then sit down with your manager to discuss how to redress the situation. Stay focused on making the best possible case to your boss without getting flustered or losing your point -always be professional and clear in this type of discussion.

Negotiate: It is not a key strength for everyone but does not be deterred by entering into negotiation around your salary – if it does not sit well with you as a proper compensation then don’t accept the first figure put on the table.

Remove emotion: Always remain calm and collected -this is no time for emotional reactions even after discovering a discrepancy in pay rates.

Practise your pitchbefore the discussion if you need to and think about the likely responses you may get. You need to put forward convincing factual points, especially if you are presenting information around what others are being paid. Be able to back this up when asked.

This is not the time to threaten to leave or disrupt the current state of play (they could call your bluff) – this is the time to show how you can deal with a pressurised situation in a calm manner.

Think of it as a business case to your employer as to why you should have a comparative salary to someone in a similar role contributing to a similar level of work.

For some companies, it will take time to educate them when it comes to pay gaps or differences but as a manager, you need to highlight that you only have their best interest at heart as you want them to be recognised as an employer of choice in the region with a productive and happy workforce all working in a very fair and equitable environment.

This article was first published in the business section of The Sunday Independent on the 17th of September 2017, and the original article can be found here


Michelle Murphy - Director
Michelle Murphy