The business world has largely been closed off to women, and overall the world has a long way to go before women are truly seen as equal to men in the workforce. The difficulty, of course, is that there are differences, but differences between the sexes does not mean that one worker is more valuable than the other.
Laws are always steps behind, and even with laws in place, the reality is that women, especially women of color, are not awarded the same benefits as men. The Equal Pay Act might have been passed in 1963, and yet the gender wage gap is still a prevalent issue. The gap isn’t solely due to the types of jobs that men versus women hold, either. There are many instances where men and women in similar roles earn vastly different amounts.
Employers get away with this for many reasons, but one of the most powerful tools of oppression is the fact that, in many workplaces, it’s discouraged to talk about your wage. Until 2010, employers could outright forbid their employees, and not enough time has passed for employees to naturally feel comfortable talking about what they earn with others. This isn’t just because of any possible repercussions, either. It’s seen as rude to talk about how much you make, but without that baseline – especially between co-workers – how can workers make informed decisions about their worth?
One may think that it’s as easy as negotiating wage increases, but it’s not that simple. Wage increases can come down to timing, how well your employer likes you, and a host of prejudices that are not ever voiced. At the end of the day, a workplace is a social enterprise, which means that how well you do as a professional boils down to who you work with.
This doesn’t mean you’re forced to deal with poor working conditions. With the right strategy and approach to your career, you can smash through the glass ceiling and truly establish a career where you feel fulfilled, supported, and adequately compensated. Being a woman in business does mean that there are more obstacles, but this guide will help you understand them and how to avoid or overcome them.
Improving Your Wage: How to Beat the Gap
When it comes to boosting your salary, the time you’ll have the most negotiating power is at the start of a new job. If you found out that you weren’t earning the market average, and were being passed over for promotions or raises, then it’s time to leave. Employers rarely will pay you the most they can affordand instead try to hire you for the least amount of money. As time goes on, if you aren’t earning what you want or should be earning for your role and experience, it’s time to look elsewhere.
Job loyalty is a thing of the past. You need to watch out for yourself and your best interests. The good news, of course, is that not only can job hunting help you earn higher and higher salaries, but it can actually be an effective strategy for earning role promotions. Roles are vaguely defined in most cases, so if you were working in more of a managerial role at your last job, despite not being a manager, chances are that you could get hired as a manager somewhere else.
Of course, there are times when a higher wage won’t necessarily be the best choice for your career. If in your current role, you find you are learning a lot and are really pushing the envelope in terms of experience, then a lower wage can be worthwhile. Once you have learned all you can in that environment, you can then make a huge job (and salary) jump elsewhere.
At the end of the day, you need to understand the value of your current employer. If they aren’t offering you non-monetary value (training, benefits, etc.), then they must be compensating you financially at a minimum.
Always Understand Your Market Worth
The best way to understand whether you are in a good job or not is to always keep an eye out for your market worth. Not only should you discuss your wage with your co-workers, but you also need to understand what others in your role are making. There will be many different factors that come into play. Experience, company worth and location will all play a role, so try to find what professionals in your role are making in your area and, if possible, why.
The reason why you’ll want to discuss wages with all of your co-workers is simple. Even those who are technically below you on the career ladder may be earning more. Why? Because they started more recently and the market value for that role had gone up. It’s not unheard of for those in higher-level roles to actually be making less because they didn’t push for raises, whereas the person working under them negotiated a higher salary.
Knowledge is power. You may use that information to help you negotiate a raise or promotion, or you may use it to help you realize it’s time to make a change. Either way, looking out for yourself is essential.
Lifelong Learning and Skill Development
If you want to make yourself invaluable, then you must continue to learn and develop your skills. There is only so much you can learn on a job, so don’t be afraid to look into formal education options that are designed to help you develop skills that will help you branch into new and exciting areas of your career.
One of the best ways to further your skills, especially in a new field, is with a degree. The degree you earn can help you build on your existing skillset and let you specialize as a unique professional. If you want to help improve your ability to make better business decisions, for example, then learning how to use data analysis to inform your decisions is a must. Data analysis and statistics are not skills you can pick up just by watching someone do their job.
It’s in cases like these where going back and earning a degree is the smart way to go. Today you don’t even have to quit your job and move to a new town to do it, either, as there are 100% online degrees available that allow you to learn remotely.
For those who want to add the ability to use data analytics to their skill repertoire, for example, you’ll want to choose a top online masters in business analytics. This type of degree will help you understand everything you need to know about databases and data warehouses. It will also train you in how to analyze the data, visualize the results, and extract meaningful recommendations from the numbers.
When it comes to expanding your expertise into a STEM or entirely new skill, earning a degree is how you can establish a foundation, learn the best practice recommendations, and graduate with a degree. This degree can then act as a way to prove your experience in these new skills, while your career so far will help secure new opportunities.
Conferences, Talks, and Workshops
You should make a point to regularly attend conferences, talks, and even workshops that are relevant to your field. This is how you stay on top of the latest thoughts, theories, and trends going on in your industry. Not only can they be great learning opportunities, but they’re also the perfect opportunity to meet other professionals in your field. If you live in a major city, you’ll want to follow event pages and your favorite organizers. This way, you’ll know all the talks and events going on near you. You don’t have to go to all of them, but keeping an eye out for what’s happening can help you stay at the forefront of your field.
There are many instances where a short course is a perfect tool. Short courses are great primers, particularly for information that having a general understanding of would be a help, but you don’t need to investigate further than that. If you want to know more about what another team in your department does, for example, a short course can help you understand more about what they do. Knowing what exactly they doand why it’s importantcan help you work better together. Understanding the what and why behind the different roles in your company will make you a better leader. Not only will you understand what every employee does, but you’ll also learn how to talk to them more effectively.
Nothing can replace goodold reading. You’ll want to read reports that pertain to your industry and role. You’ll want to stay up-to-date with the news. You’ll want to read academic journals all the way to in-depth articles published by magazines. The more you read, the more you’ll understand your industry and even discover new ways to take your career. If you want to be an expert in your field, then you need to read.
If you aren’t a big reader, you can also try finding podcasts, vodcasts, or audio books, but know that a lot of content will be written. If you listen better than you read, you can try using accessibility tools that will read aloud written content (at least digital content).
Create a Personal Brand
If you have an audience, you have power. This audience can be used to help you get big job opportunities or, at minimum, can help you expand your reach and your income streams. Never underestimate how powerful it is to be a recognized figure in public, and thanks to social media, you don’t even need to be a media darling to do it. Instead, you just need to follow these tips:
Establish a Niche
Your niche may be your job or industry, or it may be a unique approach to your industry. For example, you may make your niche all about dissecting difficult-to-understand information about your field to the wider audience. You may also make your niche your role. If you’re a journalist, for example, that can be your niche.
The reason why you need to identify and define your niche is that it’s a good way to market yourself. It can help visitors understand who you are and what kind of content they can expect from you.
In exchange for an audience’s attention, you need to provide value. This can be entertainment, it could be educational, or it could be something else. Regardless, having a clear niche and brand identity will help visitors categorize you and decide to follow you.
Content is king online. Content can refer to anything from articles to short videos to even full podcasts. Creating content is a great way to establish yourself as a leader in your field. It’s also how you’ll grow your audience and platform.
Doing this means you have people who care and trust you. You can then use that attention to sell your own products or to advertise your services. This is on top of being able to monetize your audience through advertising and sponsorships.
Credentials are a great way to boost your career. They also come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. Your degree is a credential, yes, but if you collaborate on a project with another professional, that also works as a credential.
You want to get work published, you want to win awards, and you want to earn academic credentials. Getting your name out there, collaborating with others, and getting published are all excellent ways to really make yourself into a household name.
The best part is that these credentials aren’t just ticks you can put on your resume. They also boost your reputation and expand your network. When succeeding in business depends on who you know and the influence you have, working to increase your credentials in the aforementioned ways is critical.