On 8 March, the world celebrates the achievements of women, raises awareness against bias, challenges stereotypes and takes action for equality for International Women’s Day.
This year’s theme, #EachforEqual, is drawn from a notion that collective action and shared responsibility is key to driving a gender equal world.
According to Casey Rousseau from 1st for Women Insurance, it’s this collective action that is needed to bridge the unequal divide between what women and men are paid, especially in South Africa.
“The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 2018/2019 Global Wage Report states that in South Africa, women continue to be paid 28% less than men. What’s also alarming is that South Africa has the world’s highest pay inequality overall. So while women are breaking more boundaries than ever before, they continue to be underpaid, and mother’s get paid even less,” says Rousseau.
Rousseau cites recent ILO research on the ‘Motherhood Gap’ which sees moms earning less than women without children. In South Africa, the gap is estimated to be 1%. On the other hand, fatherhood is associated with a pay increase.
A survey conducted by CareerJunction revealed that almost 60% of men feel that South Africa still has a long way to go until we reach gender equality. Women’s feelings on this are much stronger at 72%. And while 39% of women said that their gender has negatively impacted them in the workplace, this is only true for 17% of men.
“Unless the present trajectory is changed, unless policy choices are made that put gender equality at their core, the situation is likely to deteriorate further as work becomes more fragmented and the future remains uncertain,” says Vic Van Vuuren, Director of Enterprises at the ILO.
With this in mind, 1st for Women Insurance and CareerJunction are encouraging women to recognise and attain their worth:
- Knowledge is power: Pay transparency is key. Do the necessary research to ensure that what you are currently being paid is aligned to your market value. There are many websites to help you accurately estimate this.
- Make the case: If you feel you’re deserving of more, prepare a case to present to the decision makers.
- Keep a record of your achievements: From day one in a new job, note down your accomplishments and successes. This will serve as a powerful tool to help you negotiate a raise.
- Can you quantify your contribution? Your strongest argument will be made with facts: numbers based evidence of how your work has improved the company’s financial position. If you can make an evidenced based argument that the decision makers are better off with you and that you are worth the extra money, it will be very hard for them to say no.
- How much will it cost to replace you? Part of knowing your worth is knowing how much it would cost to replace you. If you have been with a company for a period, you have performed and added value to that company and you think you are not getting what your worth then it may be time to think in these terms. One fool proof way of doing it is to apply for another position with increased benefits and be truly willing to leave if you don’t get what you believe you should. It is a very strong position from which to enter negotiations and in some cases, will be the necessary wake-up call to your company for how much they stand to lose.
- Don’t make it personal: If you personalise the issue too much and confuse it with your own estimations of self-worth you run the risk of saying things which might negatively affect your relationship with your employers. The reality is that if you are worth what you think you are, someone else will pay it if your own company refuses to.
- Timing is key: It’s human nature to be more open to requests when things are going well. So think about your timing. A good time would be, for example, just after you’ve won a new contract for the company or just after you have been instrumental in helping a deal come together under time pressure.
- Prepare well. Know your worth but be realistic about it too. Be calm and open to offers but persistent in looking for what you deserve.
“Ultimately, it’s imperative that South African women know their worth and if they are not getting paid the same amount, for the same role as their male counterpart, speak up. The more open we are in terms of addressing the challenges and limitations, the more we can work together to find the appropriate solutions,” concludes Rousseau.