27 September 2023

Pay during COVID-19: Will women pursue pay rises?

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The Glassdoor Team* says a new survey has found that employed women are 19 per cent less likely to ask for more money in the next 12 months.

There’s more transparency and discussion around the gender pay gap than ever.

Heightened awareness around the discrepancy between what men and women are paid ought to be enough to even the playing field.

Sadly, awareness doesn’t pay the bills.

But advocacy might.

A survey from Glassdoor conducted online by The Harris Poll among over 1,400 employed U.S. adults revealed that:

  • Employed women are 19 per cent less likely to ask for more money in the coming months than men
  • 48 per cent of employed women surveyed, compared to 59 per cent of employed men, plan to ask for a pay raise, bonus and/or cost-of-living increase in the next 12 months

Self-advocacy doesn’t address or erase serious issues such as discrimination in the workplace.

That’s why everyone, regardless of gender identification, needs to be aware of their rights around pay transparency.

However, what our research does reveal is that employed women, likely for a variety of reasons, aren’t comfortable asking for what they’re worth.

“Before the pandemic, Glassdoor research showed signs that the gender pay gap was shrinking.

“It was promising news after a decade of increasing momentum to break down taboos around negotiating pay that tend to adversely affect women in the workplace,” said Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain.

“We’re only beginning to understand the full implications of the [pandemic] on the workplace and pay, so it’s important to ensure we don’t lose ground on closing the pay gap.”

Breaking the salary taboo

Most employees avoided asking for a pay raise during the pandemic, and women were less likely than men to have done so:

  • About two thirds of U.S. employees (65 per cent) say they did not ask for a pay raise during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Nearly 3 in 4 employed women (73 per cent) didn’t ask for a pay raise during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 58 per cent of employed men

Why are women less inclined to ask for a salary increase?

Allison Sullivan, Glassdoor’s career expert says, “In a pandemic, an uncertain economy or job market leads to [women] putting off pay conversations because they don’t want to rock the boat.”

There’s ample proof that the pandemic has had a disproportionately negative effect on working moms.

With so much to juggle between work life and home life, it’s understandable that women may consider this an especially inopportune moment to ask for an increase in pay.

But asking for more money to cover new and uncontrollable costs — such as inflation or an increase in cost-of-living due to, say, a global pandemic — and asking for advancement in the form of a promotion are two very different things.

It could be that more people want to ask for a raise, but they don’t quite know how.

Especially not in times like these.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach that conversation.

How to negotiate for a pay raise, bonus and/or cost-of-living increase

It’s important to engage in pay conversations, whether in your current role or with a prospective employer.

If you avoid talking about pay and miss out on opportunities to expand your earning potential now, it can be more difficult to catch up down the road.

Before having your next pay conversation, make sure you’re prepared:

  • Build your case: Research is essential to an effective pay conversation.

Glassdoor’s Salary Estimates paired with data on the impact you’ve brought to your role will help you identify the right pay range for your needs and build a case when talking with an employer.

  • Practice: Remember that negotiating or asking for a pay raise is a discussion.

Practice with friends and family to build confidence and practice what you want to say and how you’ll respond.

Use a salary script as a helpful prompt you can lean on in your conversation.

  • Find your window of opportunity: Knowing when to ask is just as important as the discussion itself.

Negotiating during a job offer is a common starting point.

After a successful project or before an annual performance review are also opportune times to initiate a salary conversation.

The most opportune time to negotiate pay: the job offer

Nearly 1 in 3 (31 per cent) employees accepted their salary without negotiating in their current or most recent job, which is down from 2 in 5 (40 per cent) in March 2019.

A slightly larger proportion of employed women (33 per cent) say they accepted their salary for their most recent position without negotiating than employed men (29 per cent).

This is similar to March 2019, when 42 per cent of employed women and 39 per cent of employed men said they accepted a salary and did not negotiate in their current or most recent job.

The fear of pushing back on a job offer is very real.

It’s much easier to accept the first offer that comes your way.

However, most hiring managers are given some leeway in the range they’re offering, so it never hurts to ask for more than the initial offer.

New job, more money?

Nearly half of U.S. employees (49 per cent, according to our research) believe a new job is the only way for them to get a pay raise in the next 12 months.

And while it’s always a good idea to study the marketplace and have an up-to-date understanding of pay ranges for your job and the available opportunities out there, it’s not the only option.

Before you launch into a brand new job hunt, ask yourself whether you’ve exhausted all possibilities for advancement and pay raises in your current role.

Make time to discuss compensation with your employer.

Do the research, discover what you’re worth, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

What our research ultimately proves is that — with the right timing and approach — it never hurts to ask for an increase in compensation.

If you’re finding that these conversations aren’t going anywhere, then it may be time to start browsing the job market.

In the end, advocating for yourself — whether at your current job or a future one — is the most important thing you can do.

*Glassdoor is one of the world’s largest job and recruiting websites.

This article first appeared at glassdoor.com.

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