In recent months, there has been an explosion of claims about sexual harassment in the workplace. Companies are vowing to clean up their act and end the era of pushing the issue of sexual harassment under the rug and paying off victims to silence them.
As we look at the issue of respect in the workplace, another issue that is being scrutinized is pay equity. As a social worker, you would think that we would simply accept the low pay and low status that our profession is known for. We go into this field to help people, however we still deserve to be fairly compensated for our work.
I have not only been taking more interest in this topic, but have also started to take note of things women do or things women are asked to do, which impacts our salary and can make a huge difference in what we earn in our lifetime.
One important thing is to determine what others in your organization are making who do a similar job to you. It’s also important to research your industry and see what the pay range is for your job title and the industry that you are in. Interviewing others outside your company who perform a similar job is also critical to your data collection.
I have been interested in this issue for years and have started asking people about this and how they are impacted. I have also been encouraging women to have more consciousness around their salary, and to ask for raises. One colleague was paid by the company whose products she sells, but it never occurred to her to also charge her own separate fee when she meets with a client,
Years ago, I was working for a state institution and learned that the woman in the same classification as I was making $20,000 more, which was almost double what I was earning. I brought this issue to the attention of my manager and the director of our program. They shared with me that this woman took a pay cut to work in this organization, and that they found research money to support her salary. They also told me that I was trying to “keep up with the Jones’s.”
Overtime, I decided to drop the issue. I determined that the most that would have happened is removing the “salary support” from my colleague’s salary, but I would not have gotten a raise and my salary was never adjusted. As a result, my enthusiasm suffered and others commented on how my morale had changed. When the managers addressed my change in morale, they did not inquire if the dramatic salary difference impacted me.
This situation highlights the importance of addressing any salary inequities. Even if a salary inequity seems minor, it can add up significantly over time.
In a future blog, I will address how to be more aware of this issue and what you can do if you find out that a colleague doing a similar job is making more than you.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.