Because you're worth it!

I recently read an article where the World Economic Forum has said it will take 208 years to achieve gender parity in the US.  It’s a staggering number.  There are a lot of different facets of parity.  One of these is dear to my heart.  Compensation.  Compensation used to be a very personal topic for me.  But as I start managing  teams and mentoring individuals, it has become so much more.  I’ve always had this innate sense of fairness and nothing screams unfair more than two people collecting vastly different paychecks for the same job.  I find myself advising a lot of women to ask for fair compensation but often, “fair” is very subjective.  So I want to write the three pieces of advice I give people to make the number more objective.

1. Find a mentor...or two or three.  Ask them about fair market value for your level.  These should be people who work in your field, are senior to you and are responsible for hiring decisions - which by nature involve salary decisions.  This is by far the most effective way to understand how much you should be making. 

2. Take the call.  My first year at Accenture, I was at a reception at a female partner's house.  She gave us a piece of advice I will always remember.  She had worked at Accenture for a long time but she said at least once a year, she would go out and interview elsewhere.  This was helpful for her in framing her current job, her current skill sets and her current compensation.  I am not recommending you go out and interview - although that is not a bad idea either.  But speak with head hunters when they call.  Ask them to give you the range for the job so you can understand if you are well compensated, under compensated or just right.

3. Be bold.  This last one is mainly for women.  Men, on average, ask for 30% more than women.  So, don't undercut yourself.  If you have done #1 and #2, you know your worth.  Now ask for it.  It is a negotiation - so know all the levers you can pull.  There's vacation time, there's bonus targets, there's sign-on bonuses, there's title, there's flexibility.  Figure out what is most important and least important.  Don't waste time bargaining for things that are not important.  Pick the one or two non-negotiable pieces and ask.  If you do it right, the worst someone can say is no which will leave you in no worse position than you would have been if you had not asked.

And for those of you who are reading this and are responsible for hiring decisions, I will say this: Be the change you want to see.  It is up to each of us to make sure we are paying people what they deserve.  It is up to each of us to right the wrong so individuals are not stuck in this loop of one underpaid job after another.  Don’t look for a bargain.  Invest in people and remind them to pay it forward.

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