Equal Pay Day isn’t just a made-up holiday, created to be an uplifting 24 hours for women. In fact, it marks the moment in the year when women’s pay will match the salary of a man, made in the previous year. For black and hispanic women, this date falls even later in the year. Women who are employed full time, year-round in the United States receive just 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $10,470. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, if men and women were treated equally in this labor market, getting the same returns on their productivity, it would result in $447.6 billion additional income in the U.S. economy from women’s increased pay. That’s not too shabby.
The call to action on a day like this is to ask for money from your employer or simply to ask to be paid for what you are worth, but that is easier said than done. So we talked to some awesome women for some advice on how to get what you deserve from your career. We also threw in a few fun ways to observe this very important day, because every woman deserves that, too.
Invest in Women
Tiffany Dufu, an outstanding advocate for women and the author of the new Drop the Ball: Achieving More By Doing Less, says there are so many things for women to do on Equal Pay Day. “Amplifying the message by participating in a campaign like Levo’s #Ask4More and Lean In’s #20PercentCounts is critical. The act that will make the profound difference on the world, though, is if every woman developed a passionate and compelling answer to the question ‘Why should I invest in you?'” She pointed out that we are extremely adept at convincing others to invest in our companies, families and communities, but we often forget about ourselves, the most important investment.
Jesse Draper echoes that sentiment. As the founding partner of Halogen Ventures, she is a fourth generation venture capitalist focused on early stage investing in female founded consumer technology. “Women need to invest more in women and not just philanthropically. It drives me nuts when I meet a woman of high net worth who gives millions to charity and hasn’t invested in anything for-profit, because that is where the most change can be made,” she explained. Other ways women can level the playing field with men is by investing in public and private stock, according to Draper.
And please, don’t be ashamed about asking for help with these unfamiliar financial waters. “If you don’t know how, ask questions,” she said. “I encourage more women to get into finance and start funds.”
2. Ask For More
Going in and asking for a raise can, again, be super scary. But the more prepared you are, the more confident you will be. You should be consistently tracking your work and any major accomplishments throughout the year. You can use sites like Glassdoor or PayScale to compare your salary to others in your industry with your experience. Don’t simply ask your friends about their salaries and use that as your basis; if you claim that your market value is worth more, you must have the physical evidence to back up your request. Also, don’t forget to dress the part. Remember in Clueless when Cher needs to wear her “most capable” outfit for her driver’s test? You need a similarly capable look for your negotiation, too.
And if an employer says “no” to a raise, that is not the end of the conversation. Look for other benefits you deserve. What about more vacation time? More flexibility? A bigger office? A better title? And if you don’t walk away with anything, that is still okay, because the more you practice, the easier this will get.
3. Grab a Drink
No, seriously. There are bars and restaurants all over the country supporting Equal Pay Day, so you may as well imbibe. Today The W New York – Downtown is treating ladies with 21 percent off cocktails, because lower salaries necessitates cheap drinks. They even have a cocktail called Girl Code; for whiskey lovers, the Manhattan Queen will hold court.
As part of the LeanIn.org and #20PercentCounts campaign, 300 local businesses in 25 cities will offer 20 percent discounts or special offers to women (and men) who shop today. On average, women are still paid 20 percent less than men.
“When you break the pay gap down by race and ethnicity, black women are paid 37 percent less and Hispanic women are paid 46 percent less than white men. This pay gap penalizes women who work hard every day. It hurts our families, our businesses, and our communities,” Sheryl Sandberg, the founder of LeanIn.org, said in a statement. Find participating companies here.