Financial management

Equal pay is worth asking for

- August 31, 2021 3 MIN READ
equal pay day calls for gender equity

The last day in August is Equal Pay Day. It always gets me thinking about my journey through the male-dominated space of accounting and how it often didn’t seem fair that I would be doing the same work as a male counterpart, and he got paid more.

Shockingly, in the 21st century, after decades of women and men calling for women to be paid the same as men, the national gender pay gap is 14.20%.  This means women working full-time earned $1,575.50 while men working full-time earned $1,837.00, that is over $1000 per month less than men.

Equal Pay Day matters

Despite all the messaging, the protests, the op-eds and the studies into this sad state of affairs, in 2021, women are still being paid less.

Now I’m in small business, running my own accounting agency. I am seeing this equal pay divide in a different light. I work with many women in business – talented, clever and innovative women who have found their niche and are making a difference. However, when we talk about cash flow and revenue, and how to increase it, as soon as I mention ‘increase your prices’, the shutters go up and the excuses flow.

“I couldn’t possibly put my prices up, my clients will leave me.”

“I don’t feel that I’m as good as my competitor.”

“It doesn’t feel right to ask for more.”

It leaves me perplexed because I am in business to make money, not give away my decades of experience. My skills have value.

Why is it women have an issue asking for what they are worth?

As a woman, I think it is because we have been conditioned to accept less.  While these talented women have gone into business to be in control of their financial future, they bring with them the invisible tendrils of the unfairness of the pay gap from their corporate lives or from venturing back into the workspace after being home with kids.

I asked marketing coach Marlie Jolanda who says she has found a woman’s benchmark is much lower than for men. “That way we get behind at the very start and this accumulates over the years. It shows in our superannuation. Those money blocks are real and require work to feel worthy of increasing pricing,” she said.

How do we get women to ask for their worth?

That is the million-dollar question. It starts and ends with the perception of our own value. For me, asking for my worth was a journey but once I did it, it was easy to do it again and again.

I asked Penny Albon, who has grown the very successful Teddy Trends Pet Clothing, who had some things to say about how women can ask for their worth – whether it is at work or in their own business.

“It is important to do your research and have your KPIs and examples on how you perform and what you are exceeding at. Also shine the light on any compliments or projects you have voluntarily helped out with,” she said. “It is all about showing the decision-makers how valuable you are and what skills you bring to the position.”

For those starting out

Take a leaf out of this young entrepreneur’s book. Zoe Simmons has just ventured out on her own as a copywriter. She says her experiences as an employee definitely shaped the way she runs her  business.

“In previous roles, it’s been challenging to ask for a pay rise or a promotion—even if I was doing fantastic work well above my pay grade. I did not feel valued at all. I felt like I was doing great work for peanuts, and it really impacted my self-esteems be well-being. Especially when other colleagues would be promoted around me, and my extra efforts were overlooked,” she said. “But as a business owner, it’s hard to charge what I’m worth; I’m getting better. I feel way more valued. I’m sticking to my rates. I even increase them from time to time as my experience grows. I’m grateful for my experience as an employee—it showed me what I needed from my career. And running my business has shown me it’s okay to charge your worth.”

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

The most important thing about getting paid what you are worth is to ask. It may be a no but what if it is a yes?

Now read this

The real reasons women start businesses