Girls just want equal funds but how do you know?
This might be one of my most foolish moments and I am writing this post so that I can come back to this foolishness whenever I want a good laugh on myself.
So, one of the many principles of feminism and gender equality is minimising the pay gap. We have read enough material and witness enough debates on a day-to-day basis about how females are paid only 79 cents for every dollar paid to men.
When I first started reading about this injustice, I was intrigued. Not surprised, shocked, angry, but just curious. This was something very interesting to me because personally, I never experienced such a situation. None of my friends had any insights into it too, maybe because they had never experienced it too or maybe we all are too naive to know when it happens. And that’s exactly what this post is about.
Whenever I switched jobs and reached the point of salary negotiation, I always stated my minimum salary expectations with very little negotiation window really. Sometimes the discussion would just end in one call when the HR would tell me if that’s something the company can offer or not. I never gave them any room for compromise on my minimum salary expectation. The negotiation would be around how much higher can they go. This way, most of the times I ended up with settling the matter in just 10-15 mins. since I hate salary negotiation discussions. I actually developed this trick over time, to be frank. And companies who would go back-and-forth for $2k-3k, I would just reject their offer after 2nd or 3rd call. It just felt this organisation would somehow not be a good fit for me and I trust my instincts A LOT!
So until I started reading about pay gaps and salary biases based on gender, I was really unaware about this issue. But now that I know, I have been contemplating whether I might have been a victim? Since I have always put more emphasis on the company’s work culture, people, vacation policies etc., salary never was very high on my priority list (maybe because I am single and mostly have a minimalistic lifestyle). But still, I don’t want to be knowingly underpaid when I am aware that my counterparts are earning more for the same work.
This brings me to the practical question that I have been trying to find an answer to for some time now. How do you know if you are being underpaid? How do you know if the colleague sitting next to you in the same cubicle is having more funds to his disposal for the same brain-hammering that you both do together; sometime me doing more of it than him when he has to leave early (which really happens quite often) with his wife or kids? It’s not about the money but it’s just not fair. I would not feel good about working with him anymore. My dedication and motivation would take a backseat for sure.
So how do I avoid this? From what I have been taught, it’s rude and uncivilised to discuss salary matters with your colleagues. Then whom do I discuss with? My friends are all in different sectors and different stages in their careers and I hardly have any with the same job profile as mine. Even if I had, I would feel grossly uncomfortable bringing up a discussion around salary. Maybe I’ll feel better if I mention it around the lines of me trying to understand if I am being paid fairly but that might not make any difference.
So what’s the way out? Is this a call for companies to make the base salaries (excluding bonus, incentives etc.) public for every employee? It will most definitely make the system absolutely transparent but may also start some new riots 🙂
In the new job situation that I just accepted few weeks back, I tried to be clever around this problem. Maybe it dint help me in any way, but I tried the only way I knew. After accepting the salary I was being offered, which actually felt right to me and quite enough, I honestly declared – ‘Since I am new to the US market, I don’t yet know if this is the market rate for my role. But at any point in the future, if I felt that I am being unfairly compensated, I would come to you immediately for a raise and you would have to justify or give me a raise.‘ My new manager-to-be was quite surprised and amused I could see. He gave me a slight smile and readily agreed, assuring me that the situation would not arise for at least a year. Well, I hope he was right because I really hate confrontations or any sort of discussions about salary. Mainly because I don’t feel too strongly about money. I think there is no end to our want of luxury. And I havent met a person who said that he/she thought they were getting paid much more money than they needed. So in actuality, our salary will really never be enough. How much ever we make, we will always have new desires. At the same time, I just want to make sure that my company doesn’t undervalue me or compromise on my worth. And that’s the only reason for me to stand against this evil.
I don’t know the solution but please comment if you have any suggestions for me or how you made sure you were being paid the same as your colleagues.
Why are salaries confidential anyways? If they were made public, I think it would solve a lot of jealousy and resentment among colleagues at the same level. But this is me just thinking out loud.
And now, Cyndi Laupers voice for a cheerful weekend morning. Or afternoon? Depends on when you woke up 😉
Girls Just Want to Have Fun has always been on the top of my playlist for all-time fun songs and it was such a treat to hear her again after so long.