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Protect your earning power

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Research, over the decades, shows that regardless of the strides we think we have made on affirmative action, there is one area that will always remain a contentious issue for women in the workplace.

And while it is touted that the gender pay gap is reducing, there is evidence to show that only in countries where there is significant focus on equal opportunity does this hold true.

But why should this pay gap be a concern, especially if, by your own evaluation you’re getting by and doing pretty well? Or the more pertinent question is, regardless of the fact that you think you’re making comfortable money, why should you fight tooth and nail for that seemingly meagre pay rise? And why should you aim for the best entry package when joining an organization?

Pay-work relationship

Of course the first reason is equal pay for equal work, regardless of the gender. If you join a firm earning an amount X, then all future revisions made on your pay will always be pegged on a percentage of X, be it bonuses or pay rises.

So a low entry wage means lower take home pay for the next number of years at the firm, unless you take up a new role that is not pegged in any way to previous pay.

But even in a scenario where equal pay for equal work subsists, there are certain factors that, combined, leave women poorer than men in the long haul. These factors are statistics based.

The first is that women save less over their lifetimes, takes fewer risks and also invest less aggressively than men. Therefore, they end up with a smaller nest egg.

That wouldn’t be a problem if life expectancy for both sexes were the same. But data backed research also shows that women are living longer than men, on average. A longer life expectancy with a smaller nest egg opens you up to a shakier retirement.

Negotiate relentlessly

The ultimate law of negotiation states that you’re not negotiating until you hear ‘NO’. When you hear this word, then you can begin to work towards meeting in the middle and finding a common ground.

Just keep in mind that you are worth this raise or bonus, you’ve probably just got used to taking care of everyone else that you forgot you also need to validate your value financially.

TIPS

- Accepting a lower entry package than market rate will hurt you both in the short and long term. Always aim higher than your ideal figure in negotiations.

- A negotiation begins when one party says NO. Then, the search for common mutually beneficial ground sets the tone for an acceptable compromise.

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