The concept takes me back to my years as an internal consultant at Southern Company where we sometimes issued rfp’s and then sat through presentations by consultants interested in the project. My co-worker RB and I knew that always one of the presenters would say gap analysis and when it happened we would casually look at each other but were careful to not smile or laugh at the #consultantspeak.
From Wikipedia “gap analysis involves the comparison of actual performance with potential or desired performance” and in my experience is used in the realm of organization behavior. Narrowing the gap is typically the focus of an intervention and is much of the work I do today with clients.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the gap in pay between men and women and what actions are needed to reduce it. It started when I attended the Louisiana Governor’s Office on Women’s Policy 2017 Equal Pay Summit, an excellent event highlighting pay inequity in Louisiana.
The issue has stayed top of mind for me because of both Equal Pay Day observed on April 4 and other related news stories including the World Cup-winning women of US Soccer filing a wage discrimination complaint and the story about pay differences between men and women who speak at tech conferences which got a lot of buzz.
I also discovered that where I live, Baton Rouge, LA is the second worst paying city in the US. This comes as no surprise based on my experience at LSU, one of the biggest employers in the community. Equal Pay Day, or the point in the year women need to work to make what men did in the previous year, should be observed here on May 8 rather than April 4. This is because Baton Rouge women make, on average, 64.9 cents for every dollar men make, well below the national average of 80 cents to men’s dollar. The consequences of this gap are damaging to children, families, and communities.
The Equal Pay Summit presented both facts and solutions. One proposed remedy is to pass bills designed to reduce the gap. This type of legislation includes laws that prohibit pay secrecy in organizations and laws that prohibit salary history questions during the selection process.
Another way to address the pay gap is for women, who in general have not negotiated pay, to become better negotiators and ask for what they are worth. Women’s expert Lelia Gowland participated on a panel at the Summit and her focus was the importance and value of negotiation. She pointed out that always asking women who were underpaid in their first job about salary history as they move to their next job perpetuates pay inequity.
Because women are socialized to be compliant, they tend to answer the question and to answer honestly. She offered a better response: “I consider this information confidential but based on my experience and what I’m looking for, I’m interested in a salary of …” Gowland also suggested taking a cue from politicians and media interviews ~ when asked, pivot to the question you wish they would have asked.
She went on to say that the goal is to get paid for the work you want to do, not what you were doing. In order for this to happen, you need to know what men in your industry or your target industry are making. Determining this requires a multi-prong research approach that includes networking with men to learn what they are paid, tapping into professional association data, and using the internet.
You want salary and other compensation data for your experience and your industry. If possible, gather data about all facets of compensation including both fixed and variable elements and both tangible and intangible benefits.
Negotiation is a skill that can be developed and Lelia Gowland offers e-courses on negotiation which I’ve included below with other negotiation resources:
- Lelia Gowland e-courses
- Fast Company story on what not to say when negotiating
- Excellent how-to from HBR
- Coursera – Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills
- Coursera – Introduction to Negotiation: A Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator
- Coursera – The Art of Negotiation
- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
- HBR Guide to Negotiating Ebook + Tools + Video
The pay gap is unacceptable and requires continued gap analysis and intervention on many levels.
What are your thoughts on and your experience with pay inequity and/or negotiating job offers? Please share in the comments below.