Just to be clear, I am a feminist. I believe in equal rights for women, I believe that little girls should be told that they can be whatever in the world they want to be, but in my life, I think I stumbled upon part of the reason that women are underpaid.
Talking about money is terrifying. Asking for a raise is emotional. At least for me, this isn't just business.
My Personal Insight Into The Pay Gap
You see, I started working at my job in April of 2009. My boss quoted me an hourly rate plus a percentage commission, “just to start,” implying that we'd have a conversation about increasing either the percentage or the base at some point. Instead, my hours increased. I went from being a very part-time employee to a full-time employee. I work in the sales department. I'm not bragging when I say that I am the reason that this arm of the company is profitable. We went from negative income in the first year to bringing in more than enough money to pay my salary after two years – in a rough economy.
And now, we're even better off. But I still make the same amount that I was quoted three and a half years ago. I'm a victim of the pay gap. I'm an underpaid woman.
Who's fault is that? Mine.
Sure, when we brought more money in, the commission segment of my paycheck got bigger. But I've never once brought up the idea of being paid more money. Not once.
Addressing the Issue
Last week, I consulted a very good friend of mine (who is a big deal in his own right). He said that I need to tell my boss that I have great plans for growing the company even more, and list concrete examples of things I've accomplished, and then ask for what I want.
I haven't done it yet.
The mere idea gives me a tightening in my chest. I honestly feel like this is a gender thing. My coworker said that he asks every six months for a raise. “You haven't asked at all?” he said, incredulously.
No. I haven't. Talk about equality in the workplace.
But I'm going to! One of my friends is a hiring manager (actually several of my friends are hiring managers — you want a job in Portland?) and she said, “listen, you have to talk to him. I would want to know if one of my employees were unhappy with their pay. Your boss won't want you to leave because you found something else that paid more, simply because you were afraid to ask for more money there.”
She's right. I need to address my own pay gap situation.
10 Things I'm Doing To Ask For A Raise
- It's not personal. I'm not asking a personal favor.
- I bring value to my company, and in this case, I can put a dollar figure to that.
- It's okay if he says no.
- It's okay to ask. I do not need to feel bad about asking for a raise.
- In order to feel comfortable asking, I need to spend a few minutes researching the financial gains we've made in the last three years.
- I can present the case for a raise in a non-emotional way.
- I can decide, based on what he says, to look somewhere else. I am giving up a lot to work here. I don't need to be an underpaid women suffering from the pay gap.
- It's okay to be scared.
- It's better to be rational.
- Keep it short. I do not need to justify, and any extra words show up loud and clear as insecurity.
So, here's my plan:
- Crunch the numbers to show what impact I've had.
- Write down my plan for 2013.
- Send an email to my boss asking if we can talk about my growth with the company.
- Talk to him in the early morning this week.
Please, friends! Give me advice. What am I missing? What should I do? Men in the audience, do you fret about this conversation or is it the same as asking about vacation time?