I look forward to the day where pay equity is no longer an issue yet here we are, still raising awareness to the pay gap that has women earning less than their male counterpart.
This week, seasoned journalist Catt Sadler left her job at E! and penned a letter on her website about her decision. Despite having “two decades experience in broadcasting and start[ing] at the network the very same year” as her “close friend and colleague” she discovered that her male counterpart (and co-host of E! News), Jason Kennedy was earning twice her salary. After confronting the network and trying to renegotiate her contract, they wouldn’t budge, pushing her decision to leave.
This raises a very important conversation about pay equity but lately it seems like the discussions are falling on deaf ears. How many times do we have to continue talking about an issue before progress is made in a meaningful way? Considering Latinas only make 54 cents to the dollar of a white man, we have a lot of work that needs to be done.
As an entrepreneur, I look at these kinds of social issues and by default my advice shifts into hustle mode. The reality is that we have a long way to go to parity with salary so instead of focusing on why this continues to happen, I want to provide some actionable recommendations to help you take control of your own professional fate.
Know your worth, realistically. Don’t just wake up one day and decide you’re worth ‘x’ amount of dollars. Do your research and ask trusted peers and mentors for insight into comparative salaries.
Once you know your worth, be prepared to WALK. If you decide to negotiate your salary or ask for a promotion, be prepared to activate your plan B should you be denied. Taking a stand for yourself means following through with your bold statement.
Exercise patience. If you’re not ready to quit, then hold off on that dramatic Jerry McGuire exit speech and fall back on writing that snarky email to the whole staff. It may feel good to proclaim your worth but the reality is that without some kind post-bridge burning strategy you’ll find that reality is a cold friend.
Cultivate your entrepreneurial hustle. You may need to create the job you want you so don’t be afraid to consider starting a business. The best part of entrepreneurship is that YOU decide what you want to do and how you want to do it. There’s a market for everything and if you’ve got a special way of delivering your expertise then this might be the way to create a career on your own terms.
Play your career like it’s chess, not checkers. Think several steps ahead so that you can anticipate moves before they’re made. Remember that making strategic career moves means knowing you may have to sacrifice a few pawns before winning the game. This could mean sticking out a crappy job for six more months while you finish taking an online business course or wrap up that advanced degree.
Don’t be a cautionary tale. Be proactive and put the puzzle pieces together before you step up to claim your worth. There are two options when you step into your power: Others will embrace it or they will not. In the case of an employer, the best scenario is a boss who agrees to pay you what your worth. Should you find yourself with the latter option, where your boss decides not to compensate you according to what you’re worth, then you’ll have done your due diligence to mitigate any “now what” fears.
Once you are finally ready to bounce, make that exit as dramatic as you want it to be and leap into your new job or career with ease and peace of mind.