Many women wonder if they are being paid fairly, especially as compared to their male counterparts. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine since compensation feels personal and few people like to talk about it.
While it's illegal for employers to prohibit discussions of pay at work, many employers discourage it, believing that if you discover that a colleague who does the exact same job as you is being paid more, it will stir workplace unrest. Still, there are plenty of ways to investigate your true market value and make sure that you are being paid fairly.
It's important to keep in mind that there can be legitimate reasons why two people who perform the same job are paid different salaries. Most roles have a range of salary possibilities and what you are offered within that range is usually influenced by your length of experience, education and other factors.
Here are three tips for finding out if your salary is fair for your role, qualifications and level of experience:
1. Evaluate your own total compensation package
When considering if you are being paid fairly, you must evaluate your total compensation package, not just your salary. Benefits, like employer-paid health insurance and transportation reimbursement, and perks, like free lunches or snacks, do have monetary value, and can impact your total compensation package significantly and improve your quality of life.
Ask yourself some questions about your job:
- Did you negotiate your salary when you first started, or just accept the initial offer? (If you did not negotiate you are likely being underpaid as employers expect some form of negotiation from job applicants.)
- If you've worked for your employer for several years, has your pay increased to account for the rate of inflation? Does your company offer yearly pay increases based on merit?
- Do you know where you sit relative to your pay grade and similar jobs at other companies?
- Are you communicating with your manager frequently about career advancement goals and your role at the company?
2. Do some compensation research online
You can also get a rough estimate of your market value with salary websites such as Glassdoor and Salary.com. While these sites only give a general overview of the marketplace and can only approximate how years of experience and location might impact your salary, you can still gain a better understanding of what other people in your position earn. Try also searching for job titles similar to yours to get a broader range of the value of your position — this could help you with salary negotiation later on.
3. Consult colleagues in your network about how they're paid
While most people won't be bold enough to straight up ask their colleagues how much money they make, doing so is the easiest way to determine whether your company pays equitably. Consider discussing your salary with coworkers who have similar roles who might be willing to speak about it.
If you aren't comfortable asking current coworkers, reach out to people in your network with the same or similar job title to gauge whether you are being paid fairly for your position and experience level. (Remember, things like having a graduate degree or years of experience can and will impact your salary so factor those in when evaluating the responses you receive.)
If your research suggests that you are being underpaid, don't fret. Even once you are in a role you can negotiate for the compensation you deserve.
According to a recent survey from Randstad, 60%of women say they've never negotiated with an employer over pay. And, more than half of women report that they are thinking about changing jobs because they feel they're not being paid fairly.
Once you've run the numbers and decided you're not being paid fairly, do your homework. Use salary calculators to determine what people with your job title, education and level of experience are earning. Show what you do above and beyond your job description to help make the case to your boss that you deserve a raise.
And, if your current company can't or won't bring your salary up to market, ask for other benefits and perks, like additional vacation time to make up the difference.