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Why don’t women ask? Bridging the gender pay gap (Part III)

This is the third and final part of the Why don’t women ask? Bridging the gender pay gap series - view Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed it. 


So far we have looked at the steps organizations and managers can take to help ensure women are paid fairly and given the support required to progress in their careers. In this final part, we focus on what individuals can do to bridge the gender pay gap.



What can I be doing as an individual?


One contributor to pay discrepancies is that women often feel unsure and are less inclined to ask for what they want, i.e.: pay rises, work flexibility or training. In general, women are not taught or encouraged to negotiate, and therefore, it is important for women to learn to prepare for pay reviews. 



Do your homework 


Here are some great questions to cover when preparing for pay reviews:

  • Are you familiar with the pay review process in your organization? Is there anything you do not understand about the process?
  • How often do you prepare for your pay review?
  • Do you start preparing a couple of months in advance or just one or two weeks in advance?
  • Do you come prepared with a slide deck or use your written notes and trust that you’ll cover everything off? 


Pay reviews are not a one-way street and you can be confident going in if you have done your homework and can be clear on your expectations and needs.


Does your organization provide clear definitions on what is expected from you at different levels of the ladder of progression? If not, try defining them for yourself and work with your manager to review them regularly to ensure they are relevant. 


Use internal data points to find out if your company provides salary information so you can make comparisons between yourself and your peers.


While preparing for performance remuneration conversations, do some market analysis and research to find out what rates are being offered for similar roles to yours.



Be proactive and prepared 


Don’t wait until review time to find out what has been going right or wrong for the last year. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:

  • Do you collect feedback before your review?
  • How often do you collect feedback between your consecutive reviews?
  • Is collecting feedback a regular thing for you?


Think about what career progression means for you. Have regular conversations with your manager about the relevancy of your goals. Ask your managers and colleagues for regular feedback on your goals. This way when you get to your review you can demonstrate improvements or ability to do a task or role.


Structure and prepare your performance review conversations similar to how you would try and prepare for a new job interview. Articulate your achievements. I personally tend to be nervous and I ramble, so to keep me in check I use a slide deck to stay concise and to the point.





Negotiation is a skill and like any other skill it can be learned and developed by practicing. Preparation is key; have a clear set of expectations and build your case with examples of deliverables and achievements. Being able to articulate this and confidently put forward your abilities and achievements can sometimes feel awkward for women, but it is necessary for you to do so, as opposed to expecting managers to magically know everything you do. 


Remember, not being given what you ask for is not the end of the conversation. Be open to negotiation, discuss why and ask for feedback and gain an understanding around the next steps to getting what you deserve. Gain understanding around the gap between where you are and where you want to be so you can take steps to bridge it.



Being an ally


It’s important as an individual who does not identify as female to recognize the privilege and biases that hold women back. You can help by being transparent and sharing your own process and steps for reviews, as well as calling out behaviours that lead to inequality.


Finally, I would like to conclude on this note: to bridge the gender pay gap individuals, managers and organizations all have a big role to play. Every step taken makes a difference in minimizing and eventually closing the gap.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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