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Advocate Today for Better Pay

International Women’s Day is here and its theme is “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow.” Here at The Swing Shift, we believe in 100% pay parity for all women.

However, in the past two years, women’s pay parity has taken an enormous toll as a result of the pandemic. McKinsey and Company reports that “The pandemic could cost the average American woman close to $600,000 in lifetime income.”

As individuals who are looking to shift roles or careers, or coming back from those breaks, you may wonder how you can advocate for yourself as you re-engage and negotiate your compensation package.

Never fear - we have guidance that will get you going in the right direction. Let’s talk about how to investigate all aspects of potential compensation so you are paid what you are worth, and put you ahead of the curve as you look to return or switch roles or careers.

Do Your Research

As you look at roles, you want to do some fact finding on the company, the industry, the role and sometimes the individual you’re talking to. The more information you have at hand, the better you can understand what your worth is, as well as what they are able and willing to pay.

There is now a wealth of online information about companies’ culture and pay scales available to you. Three that we love include: - which includes employee reported data on companies and roles. This is a great tool to gauge culture and employee happiness, as well as gain insight into the interview and hiring processes. - includes information on both what you might command based on your experience and geographic location, as well as what employers pay for specific roles, including pay bands based on experience. This requires some time to input your data, but their employee reported information comes straight from HR departments, so it’s reliable in terms of both pay bands and career progression. - provides a listing of female-friendly companies based on female employee reviews.

Pay Bands: Know What You Can Make

Many companies have established job levels, with salary and bonus structures associated with each level, and criteria that show when you are under - or over - leveled relative to your skills, experience and the needs of the role. Salary bands, or pay bands, are pay ranges established by individual organizations for specific roles. They define the value each role has, based on market value and internal value, and provide opportunities for more effective pay management.

You want to understand where you fall within a pay band, whether you’re currently employed, or looking to re-engage. You also need to understand how much headroom there is within a given pay band to evaluate and measure your longer term growth and performance. To investigate this, you want to uncover:

  • Where you fall within the range for your position – whether you’re looking at the researched market range or a provided range by your employer

  • Does it align with your current skill level and competency

  • Are you and your current or prospective manager in agreement about your level of competency

If you don’t know, make it a point to find out.

And from a DEI perspective more forward thinking companies are making salaries public, which is a great starting point for your follow-on conversation.

Compensation Factors Beyond Salary

Everyone knows that base pay is the clearest measure of an employee’s worth. But there are common indirect benefits that have monetary value that aren’t included in the main offer. These include health insurance, performance bonuses, vision and dental insurance and retirement plans. Each of these has a cost to the company and a value to the employee. The values of these plans sometimes are not reported to the employee. Determine what’s valuable to you and assign a cost to it.

Companies increasingly provide unique ways to compensate their employees. These may be low-cost, yet can increase the total value of the work output. On-site child care, gym memberships, casual dress codes, flexible schedules and recognition awards are all ways that companies compensate employees. You may not see the value of these benefits listed on your paycheck. The total compensation of these benefits, however, may include savings in time, worry and stress.

Lifestyle costs are super important right now as people are returning to in person roles. Longer commutes and transportation costs may lower your average hourly rate, and in person clothing requirements will go up - you can’t wear those sweats every day. Evaluate those carefully: a higher salary doesn’t necessarily mean a better payoff in the long run.

Your Values

This aspect is almost as important as the role itself, but many people omit asking these questions. Make a point to look into compensation and advancement policies. During your investigations, ask about workplace culture.

Think about what personal life issues you might need: do you expect to need time to care for older parents, or young children, or even yourself? What’s the companies’ stance on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Social Responsibility and External Recognition of its employees?

Everyone’s take will be different: you just want to understand what value these elements have for your life.

Get Ahead of the Curve

Understanding and evaluating these core factors will put you ahead of the curve as you interview and get offers. Need more information on how to get there? Get more resources and support at The Swing Shift - we have everything from on demand workshops, online courses, and an in-depth job search book Back to Business, a guide on getting back to work after a career pause.


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