People often don’t talk a lot about money, especially how much they are being paid.
In 2018, according to Statistics Canada, women aged 25 to 54 earned $4.13 less per hour, on average, than their male counterparts performing the same job. This equaled nearly $0.87 for every dollar a man earned.
For many financial professionals, including Jackie Porter, a Mississauga-based Certified Financial Planner, this means it is more important than ever for women to be confident self-advocates when negotiating their pay with employers.
Porter has been completely financially independent since her late teens. Now, she assists thousands of clients and families in securing and achieving their financial goals. She also co-authored the self-help book Single by Choice or Chance, which guides women in better preparing for their financial future.
When it comes to overcoming anxiety and the fear of rejection in pay negotiations, Porter said there are five simple strategies for knowing your worth and obtaining the most favourable pay possible.
1. Research is essential
Knowing the typical pay rate or salary for any position is vital to determine your worth as an employee, based on your experience.
There are several excellent online tools that can help you understand typical base salaries. For example, payscale.com, which calculates levels of pay based on position title and location. This gives an idea of whether or not you are being treated fairly based on your skillset, said Porter.
2. Network with other professionals
Porter said she believes there is power in numbers. While it is often easy to think of colleagues as competitors, she said we should instead adopt a mentality of “coop-itition.”
“We don’t talk enough about money,” she said. “You can talk to women in your field doing similar jobs to find out how they’re doing, how they’re approaching these conversations, what’s working, what’s not working, and really build your confidence that way too.”
Building relationships through in-person and digital networking events allows for conversations about pay transparency. This lets employees and industry professionals advocate for one another and collectively bargain, added Porter.
3. Apply an entrepreneurial spirit
Porter said she thinks what women have to overcome the most is the lack of confidence to take action. The best way to do so is by developing an entrepreneurial spirit and successfully marketing yourself to employers.
“Don’t be afraid to emphasize your positives and promote that,” Porter said. “It’s actually to your own detriment from a pay rate perspective if you don’t know how to articulate what you’re good at and how you add value to that company.”
Take ownership of past accomplishments and leadership opportunities in order to successfully communicate those skills and abilities during the hiring and negotiation processes.
4. Advocate for yourself and start high
For Porter, the key to a good negotiation is to start at the top. “[Women] tend to set the bar high for excellence in what we are doing, but that doesn’t translate to asking for what we deserve,” she said.
“Don’t start at your non-negotiable because then there’s nowhere to go,” she continued. “Aim high because then you actually have a lot more wiggle room to negotiate. But if you start at [the] bottom, then you’re actually going to feel cheated.”
This strategy will easily help in exceeding your salary expectations, Porter said, and build your confidence.
5. Negotiation doesn’t stop once you’re hired
Don’t be afraid to ask for regular pay increases throughout your employment. Porter said if you are working beyond your original job description in the future, ask your employer for a raise.
“Consider salary negotiation as an ongoing conversation,” she said. “If you’re going to continue to enhance your skills and bring more value to that job, your accomplishments are going to speak for themselves.”
Pay negotiation, like anything, has a learning curve and it takes time to build up the skill. But in a society where women’s work is often undervalued compared to men’s, taking affirmative action is vital.
Porter said her biggest piece of advice is to “feel the fear, and ask anyway.”