In 2018, the Women’s Foundation worked with AAUW to bring their Work Smart salary negotiation program to the heartland for the very first time. Von Dodderidge of Raymore, MO took the training and became a facilitator herself.
She talked with us about what she’s learned through the program, and what women can do to close the gender pay gap. You can sign up for free pay negotiation training online at: https://salary.aauw.org/
What made you want to become a pay negotiation trainer?
Years ago I was working for an engineering firm when something happened that really opened my eyes to the problem of the gender pay gap. I was working very hard, completing additional training, volunteering for efforts outside of my core responsibilities and receiving a lot of positive feedback concerning my work. I decided to research and soon discovered that my compensation was well below the market rate for my position. I got time on my manager’s calendar, put together two performance binders and during the meeting as I reviewed the information with my manager; he agreed that I needed to be compensated at a higher rate.
We met again in a week and he told me that although they couldn’t give me what I asked for, they would provide $1 more per hour.
I was disappointed but thankful for the increase. Later I was speaking with a male colleague who was a great friend. I shared with him that our rate was below market. He then shared that a few months ago he got a nice increase. He had the same job title and core responsibilities as me. When he told me the timing, I noticed that he received the increase before I started working on my research – but unlike me, he didn’t even have to ask for it. I was devastated. Unfortunately I’ve met many women who have had similar experiences.
This frustrated me, but before taking the AAUW Work Smart pay negotiation training, I didn’t have the tools to address it. After attending my first AAUW workshop and learning the valuable information, I wanted to make sure other women had this knowledge as well, so I volunteered to be a facilitator. Now, instead of getting devastated, I get active. I approach negotiations knowing my worth, knowing my value – and knowing how to stand up and speak to it. I want other women to be empowered as well.
What’s the most effective technique you learned in the Work Smart program?
The most important skill we practice is how empowering it can be when you know how to speak to your worth and the value you can bring to the employer. As women we have a hard time with this because we feel like we’re bragging. But employers appreciate when job candidates have the skills to stand up and articulate their value and speak with confidence concerning their accomplishments and how they can be a benefit to their employer.
Another important lesson is the power of deflection. When you’re interviewing for a job and the hiring manager asks about salary requirements, people feel pressured to give a number that’s close to previous earnings because they want the job. So we train that first you must do your research to know what the market rate is for the position. Then, based on what you know you can bring, determine your target salary and target salary range. Once you’ve done your homework, when asked about your salary expectations, you want to hold on providing your numbers until you have a job offer or until you learn more about the role. If the employer keeps pressuring for this information, ask them what they have budgeted for the position. That puts the ball in their court. If they keep pressuring for your numbers, you’ve done your homework, so share that you would expect the position to be at market rate and based on what you can bring, provide your target salary range. Never share a single number, always share your range.
It’s also important to remember that negotiations can continue after you’ve gotten the job. Additionally remember to negotiate and ask about the included benefits as well.
Why is equal pay important for women?
The gender pay gap isn’t just about numbers. Your pay determines how much you can save, how much you can invest for retirement, how much you can put away for emergencies, how long it will take to pay off debts and student loans, the quality of life for you and your family, where you can live, what you can do and paying your monthly expenses. Additionally it’s demoralizing to work day-in-and-day out knowing that you have to work 150 percent harder just to get on par with the guys and when you’re going through this and underpaid, it feels like you’re undervalued and unappreciated –and in a way, you are. That’s why learning these pay negotiation skills is so important. Essentially you’re fighting not just for the present, but you’re also fighting for you and your family’s future.
What else can women do to close the pay gap?
One big reason for the gender pay gap is the gender leadership gap. In too many fields, it’s still men who are making the final decision on who is getting paid what. We need more women in those positions of power, and sitting at the table where those decisions are made.
That’s why it’s imperative that women learn to demand the salaries they deserve – so that they can get to those positions of power. It’s going to take time, but every woman who speaks up gets us one step closer.