This week is full of commitments and deadlines. Rather than try to meet all my blogging commitments with new work and failing, I’m pulling out some old posts. Given how my audience has grown, most of you won’t have read them at the time. This post was originally published here.
This afternoon, Crommunist tweeted me a link to this post about a Reddit contributor begging women to negotiate salaries:
In general, the women I have negotiated with will say 45k is not enough and they need more, but not give a number. I will then usually give a nominal bump to 48k or 50k. Company policy wont let me bump more than 5k over the initial offer unless they specifically request more. On the other hand, men more frequently will come back with a number along the lines of 65k to 75k, and I will be forced to negotiate down from there. After this phase, almost all women will take the offer or move on to somewhere else, not knowing they could have gotten more if they asked.
At the end, most of the women I hire make between 45k and 50k, whereas the men make between 60k and 70k. Even more crazy, they ask for raises far less often, so the disparity only grows.
I don’t know if this is at all helpful, I feel most of it is common sense, but I see it all the time. How can I help?
What follows is a set of bullet points telling women what they “need” to do to get fair pay. The blogger who posted this also posted several comments agreeing and offering more advice. All lovely and useful and practical.
Dear manager who is paying his or her female employees less than the males: You’re discriminating against women. Worse than that, you know you’re discriminating, and you’re blaming the people you’re discriminating against.
It doesn’t matter that this is policy. In fact, that makes it both worse and a point of legal weakness in the HR policy at your company. A policy that creates gender disparities in pay that isn’t based on job performance is a big flag that says, “Sue me, ladies!” And nothing about negotiating one’s pay is job-related. Nothing about needing to ask for a raise instead of receiving them as part of regularly conducted job reviews is job-related.
It doesn’t matter that everyone else is doing the same thing. There was a time when everyone fired women as soon as they confessed to being pregnant, too. That practice is now illegal, and some company had to be the first to get sued over it and make case law. The only way to make sure that first company isn’t yours on a practice like this is to knock it the fuck off.
There are a ton of “resources” available to tell women how to get along better in the workplace. However, as Pascale Lane pointed out just today, many of these pieces of direction consist of little more than labeling behavior that is stereotypically female as a problem to be fixed. The fact is, however, that working styles more generally related to women improve the workplace and work groups, rather than being a handicap.
You want engaged women in your workplace. You want your hires to stick around and not cost you one and a half to three times their salary to replace them (far more than that annual pay gap between genders). Making your female employees fight for anything approaching pay equity is not the way to make them happy or make them want to stay with you. On the other hand, judging by the example that Saturn set back in 2003, adopting a no-haggle policy can mark you as the place for smart women to be.
So, concerned hiring manager, if you really want to answer, “How can I help?” try fixing the problem instead of the people hurt by it.
Update: Any time you see advice for women on negotiating pay, remember two things. First, women are more likely to be pushed into situations in which they have to negotiate raises. Also, they are more likely to be judged harshly and punished for asking.