Are you paid what you're worth?

By Sarah Ell

Females can earn up to 22 per cent less than their male counterparts.
Females can earn up to 22 per cent less than their male counterparts.

As Kiwis we might pride ourselves on our reputation for fair play, but when it comes to pay equity we've still got some work to do. The gender pay gap still sits at about 14 per cent - that means women are paid 86c in the male dollar - with females in some major professions, such as accounting and engineering, earning up to 22 per cent less than their male counterparts.

The YWCA is leading the change debate for equal pay through awareness campaigns and its annual Equal Pay Awards, which recognise companies and organisations trying to close the gender gap. But how can women in the workforce help themselves to get paid what they're worth?

Jason Blackmore, head of Reward at Coca-Cola Amatil NZ, a member of the Equal Pay Awards judging panel and chairman of the New Zealand Remuneration Network, shares six top tips for attaining pay equity:

1. Research potential employers and find out who the "good guys" are When applying for a new position, take the time to research the company, Blackmore says. Find out its track record on gender pay equity and its policies on diversity and inclusivity.

See if it has won accolades in events such as the YWCA Equal Pay Awards or other "best employer" programmes.

"Google News will give you an insight into how some of these organisations operate," Blackmore says. "There are also sites like Glassdoor which can be informative, although a lot of the reviews tend to be by people who have left the company, so you need to take them with a grain of salt, a bit like TripAdvisor."

If an organisation is actively trying to narrow the pay gap, it is likely to be promoting that. Also, look at the gender balance on the board and executive team, and in the pipeline of leadership below that.

2. Ask the right questions during the recruitment process During the interview process ask about the organisation's gender and diversity policies. The recruitment process is as much about a potential employee finding out if they're a fit for the employer than vice versa, says Blackmore. "For me, if someone's asking about those sorts of policies, they're the kind of questions I like." Choose your words carefully, Blackmore adds -- "talk about the diversity culture rather than saying, 'Does your organisation have a gender pay gap?'. If you ask and the organisation does have a focus on it, they're going to happily tell you all about it."

3. Pick the right time to talk to your current employer "Negotiating pay often works best when you are changing roles, but if you are looking to correct an issue brought on by gender bias you probably won't want to wait until then," Blackmore says.

"You also need to understand what the organisation is going through at the time you are asking for your salary to be reviewed. It's not a good time to be negotiating a raise if people are being laid off or the company is not making targets." Try to time salary discussions around the release of positive financial results or when remuneration rates are being reviewed and budgets set.

Blackmore says your direct manager might not be the best person to talk to about gender pay equity; sometimes working through the human resources department might be a better option. It can investigate and feed back to your managers.

4. Know your worth, and negotiate effectively"Your frame of mind when negotiating is very important," Blackmore says. "If you think there is a gender pay gap or discrepancy, then don't go in with a passive approach. You're not asking for a favour, or saying 'I hate to bother you, but would you mind paying me the same as X'. You need to take the emotion out of it."

Present the facts and ask if there is something you don't know about why the discrepancy exists.

Blackmore says it's important to have an idea of what you will do if your request is refused. Is it a deal-breaker and will you want to look for another job, or will you take the feedback on board and try again later? Blackmore notes that gender pay equity is a long game, and even if your request is refused, it may raise awareness within the organisation and benefit others in the future.

5. Identify if the issue is in fact gender bias "Know your facts or at least understand what it is you're asking for," Blackmore says.

"If you are comparing yourself with a male employee who earns $10,000 more than you, when you started on the same salary, and if you are in the same role and have the same responsibilities, then gender might be an issue. But if you're not, or if he's gained other qualifications, for example, it might be that. Not all pay discrepancies come down to a gender-based pay gap. It's such an important argument, you want to make sure that you are picking the right battle."

6. Give yourself the best chance of promotion and reward Make sure your managers know what you're achieving at work. "It's about saying, 'I did that and I did a good job'. Make sure you're getting recognised for what you are doing and it will be harder for you to be discriminated against," Blackmore says.

Take opportunities for professional development and training, and prepare yourself for promotion by researching the role you're after. "Your development and your career are your responsibility. Know where you want to go and how you're going to get there. If you're driven and focused on what you want to get out of your career and are getting the results you need, it will be more difficult for an organisation to say no to promotion or discriminate against you."

Equal Pay Awards

The third annual YWCA Equal Pay Awards, sponsored in 2016 by EY (Ernst & Young), Coca-Cola Amatil NZ and SKYCITY Entertainment Group, recognise businesses which positively address the equal pay issue within their organisations. Awarded companies are considered thought leaders among their peers, outstanding employers to current and potential staff, and good corporate citizens to their customers and wider New Zealand. Award winners will be announced on November 3.
This year the YWCA has also introduced a "compact", an endorsement businesses can use to tell new and existing employees that equal pay is on their radar. Organisations which have started to address the equal pay issue but are still in early stages can apply for the compact to indicate to the marketplace that they are committed to pay equality.

- NZ Herald

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