What to do if your male co-worker is earning more than you
A career coach gives us her 5-point action plan when it comes to broaching the subject of equal pay
You’ve just found out that your male co-worker is earning a higher salary than you. Is there anything you can do about it? In a nutshell, yes.
Worried about rocking the boat, the temptation to keep quiet and carry on as normal can seem like a much easier option. In the short-term, arguably yes. However, staying in a job where you feel that your efforts aren’t being appreciated on the same scale as a colleague’s can prove to be incredibly de-motivating, doing your long-term career prospects more harm than good. Resentment of your co-worker’s better pay package could also take its toll on your working relationship, leading to a toxic work environment not just for you, but for your team also.
In order to ensure that you’re equipped with the tools you need to handle this frustrating situation civilly, cleverly and amicably, we asked Career Coach and Get The Gloss Expert Anna Percy-Davis for her 5-point action plan and career advice regarding how to ask for a pay rise and addressing gender inequality in the workplace in the most professional way possible.
1. Fact check
Be very sure of your facts - whilst it is still far too common for women to be paid less than their male colleagues, you need to make sure you have the exact facts before you go in to complain - have you and your colleague been around for the same length of time, do you have the same qualifications etc. If you haven't but you still feel you deserve the same pay, you just need to be sure you have some other facts and figures to back up your argument.
2. Approach the right person
Who is the key stakeholder you need to talk to? Who is the person who is responsible for deciding your pay? He/she is usually the best person to approach. However, if there is a strong HR department it may be easier to approach them and in fact, if you are working for a large and structured organisation going through HR might be a requirement.
3. Be clear, concise and prepared
How best to manage any meetings on this subject? Once you have established who’s best to talk to, the next trick is managing the meeting well and sensitively. You need to be very clear what you want to achieve from the meeting. If it is a pay rise but that isn't forthcoming, what is your fallback position? Instant resignation? A list of what you need to achieve to get a pay rise? At the very least, it should be a commitment that the pay inequality will be looked into (or that you will have been given a credible explanation for the pay disparity).
Make sure you front-foot the meeting - if you go in very aggressively and pound the table, you are unlikely to get the response you want but if you demonstrate a commitment to the organisation and handle the meeting professionally and assertively you are more likely to be listened to. Even better if you can acknowledge who you are talking to in a positive way before making your request - you are much more likely to be listened to favourably.
4. Believe in yourself and know your worth
Beware the imposter syndrome - this is an easy trap to fall into (and is particularly common among high achieving women) where you believe you aren't as good as people around you think you are and you worry about others finding out that you are actually a fake and all your successes and achievements are flukes. If you believe this, than you will find it very difficult to stand up and ask for equal pay, so take a deep breath and really believe in yourself before attempting any such conversations.
5. Solidarity, sister!
In the words of Sheryl Sandberg - “lean in!” Sheryl Sandberg the hugely successful COO of Facebook and author of the book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, £16.99, encourages all women to lean into our careers and really work hard to believe in ourselves enough to ensure we are paid and treated equally to our male colleagues without losing our femininity. The more we “lean in” together, the more we will change things not only for ourselves but for all women now and in the future.