Equal Pay Day is Here

equalpayApril 12th, Equal Pay Day, marks how far into the year women have to work in addition to last year in order to earn what their male colleagues made in 2015.  Despite the significant progress women have made, women in the U.S. make just 79 cents for every dollar that men earn.  “The pay gap between men and women offends our values as Americans, as long as it exists, our businesses, our communities, and our Nation will suffer the consequences,” said President Barack Obama in his National Equal Pay Day Presidential Proclamation.

According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, the pay gap affects women of color even more.  Black women earn 60 cents to each dollar earned by a white man, while the typical Hispanic woman earns 55 cents to the dollar. “Women are increasingly the breadwinners of American households, and when they are not paid equally, or are underrepresented in certain higher-paying occupations, their ability to save for retirement is hindered and hardworking families face greater difficulty meeting their basic financial needs,” added the president.

How can women help close the gender pay gap?  On this Equal Pay Day, vow to follow this advice from Money Magazine:

Negotiate Smarter
Women often struggle between being too aggressive and not aggressive enough when it comes to negotiating, but we have to find a way to make it work if we want to receive a fair wage. Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles suggests focusing on being collaborative, using “we” and taking into account the perspective of the company and hiring manager.  She also recommends being authentic, “come up with language that feels comfortable and natural for you to use.”

Do Not Fear the Counter Offer
According to a study by Catalyst, only 31% of women (vs. 50% of men) had countered the offer for their first job out of grad school.  “Failing to negotiate your salary from the start is not only an initial mistake; it is one that will continue to follow you and will be compounded over the years, disadvantaging you throughout the remainder of your career,” says Lee Miller, author of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating.

Push for Promotions
Studies show that women’s pay growth stops outpacing men’s around the age of 30, a time when many women start having children.  “That suggests that a smart move would be to try to move up the ladder before you decide to raise a family,” writes Margaret Magnarelli and Susie Poppick for Money.

Work in a Fairer Field
The pay gap is much smaller than the average in fields such as ad sales, dental hygiene, HR, chemistry, pharmacy and computer programming. One reason the pay gap difference exists in these fields is because they often offer great flexibility, allowing workers to “sub out for another, if, say, someone has to stay home with a sick kid.”

Toot Your Own Horn
For women who made their achievements known to others in the organization, 30% had greater compensation growth than peers who did not promote themselves.  If the idea of promoting yourself makes you uncomfortable, take this advice from Generation W speaker Gerry Laybourne:  “If you can’t toot your own horn, toot the horn for somebody else.”

What is your best advice for how women can help close the gender pay gap?