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Equal Pay Day: Here's what you can do 🙌

I’ll never forget sitting in the lunchroom with a male colleague when he casually mentioned his salary to me.

Why is this memory seared into my mind? His salary was a whopping 20% more than mine. That’s despite the fact that we had the same education, experience, and oversaw the same kinds of projects on the job.

My blood boiled.

For plenty of women, especially women of color, this is not an unusual situation. I would love to say, “Happy Equal Pay Day!” today with enthusiasm, but it’s a bit difficult when unequal pay is still rampant throughout the world.

Still, I think we can acknowledge how far we’ve come and use the existing pay gap as fuel to keep on keepin’ on. I wholeheartedly believe that we will one day see a society where people share completely equal and fair opportunities, regardless of gender.

What I know is that the fastest way there is for men to be allies for women, for our culture to create greater transparency about pay, for organizations to take a close look at – and correct – their pay structures, and for women to advocate for themselves.

Let’s be clear: it’s not an individual woman’s job to fix the pay gap. We’re all part of the solution to leveling the playing field. And all of us should feel equipped to summon the confidence to go after what we deserve.

So, today’s Quick Confidence tips are all about how to change your thoughts and actions to get into a more confident mindset – and get the salary you deserve. Quick Confidence Tips to Advocate for #EqualPayDay

  1. Interpersonal. Normalize conversations about salary. In the past, salary discussions were perceived as taboo or off-limits. It’s become all too apparent now that not talking about salary allows discrepancies to go unacknowledged. For this reason, be more open and frank with your network about salaries and bonuses. Check with each other: are your numbers congruent? Take advantage of consulting with your “weak ties” too, not just your inner circle. For example, consider talking to people “who you used to know” or “who you don't know so well” about compensation. That’s been shown to translate to more and better opportunities.

  1. Mindset. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. A lot of people don’t like to ask for more than they have, out of fear they’ll be rejected, shut down or look greedy or entitled. Then there are others who shy away from sitting down with bosses and higher-ups at their company. Try to reframe your mindset to realize that salary discussions will only create temporary discomfort. In fact, you can pretty much bet on that. But you know what? Being paid less than you deserve will create lifelong discomfort! Not just psychologically, but in terms of your short- and long-term financial stores, too.

  1. Embodied: Don’t underestimate the power of walking away. Sometimes being "willing to walk" is the ultimate power move. Here’s an example: In my business as a public speaker, when I quote my speaking fee and a prospect tells me it’s too high, I can either reduce my fee or stand my ground. Guess what? I always stand my ground. In fact, my favorite 4 words are: my fee is firm. When I signal to prospects that I’ll need to walk if they can’t meet my fee, nine times out of ten, it leads to progress of some sort. I don’t use this as an empty gimmick or threat, rather it’s a commitment to knowing and acting on what my services are worth. Walking shows people exactly how serious you are. But know: it’s not wise to bluff in these situations. Don’t indicate you’ll walk away unless you’re actually able and willing to do so!

Making unequal pay impossible to ignore is one of the easiest ways to create change. Sure, most people hear that women make less than men on average. But having conversations about numbers with your peers and leaders will make the situation more real and relevant. It’s time to stop letting organizations get away with giving women – or anyone, really – less than they deserve.

Now, I want to hear from you! Have you ever had someone else advocate for your salary increase? Or have you corrected a case of unequal pay? What did you do to challenge it? Tell me about a time you successfully negotiated a raise. Let’s celebrate that!

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