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Pay equity

Yesterday, August 30th, the Madison Business Support team had the pleasure of hosting PACE (Professional Assistants for Chief Executives) for a lunchtime presentation from Jo Cribb, Chief Executive of the Ministry for Women, on the gender pay gap. As a follower of the Ministry for Women’s highly engaging LinkedIn page, I was excited to meet Jo and hear what she had to say on such a topical issue.

Through humour and lively discussion, Jo raised our awareness to the statistics and contributing factors to the gap between male and female earnings, which I encourage you to check out here: http://women.govt.nz/work-skills/income/gender-pay-gap. It was interesting to see how few hands came up when Jo posed the question “who here has successfully negotiated a pay-rise for themselves?” As Executive Assistants, the members of PACE acknowledged they often go into bat for other members of staff, confident in their ability to identify and promote their colleagues’ or subordinates’ strengths and value they bring to the business – however they feel far less comfortable doing the same for themselves. PACE members are in a unique position where they are privy to everything going across their CE’s desk; they are acutely aware of cost-cutting endeavours and this knowledge can hamstring them when it comes to having those tricky salary negotiation discussions.

This was the first PACE event I have attended and I loved the level of engagement and exchange of ideas between the group. We talked about how we have approached negotiating our salaries in the past, what’s worked for us and what hasn’t; and then what advice we would give to younger women or our daughters entering the workforce and having to stand on their own two feet. The resounding theme that came up time and time again was CONFIDENCE.

While Jo and the Ministry of Women continue to do wonderful things to raise awareness of and tackle the issues that result in women being under-employed, unemployed and under-utilised at a higher rate than men (see http://women.govt.nz/work-skills/utilising-womens-skills), we have a responsibility as women in the workplace to address what we can through robust and productive conversations with our managers and with each other. As a recruiter I often find that when women come in to interview with me they struggle to put into words why they are fantastic at what they do. These are women who make sure their manager’s days run smoothly and a sign of a job well done is nothing going wrong – which makes it difficult to verbalise why you’re awesome!

A couple of the PACE members talked about folders/spreadsheets they add to throughout the year of all of their achievements and cool things they’ve done so when it comes to performance review time they’re not scrambling to come up with everything. I thought this was an awesome idea and it also plays into my advice to get comfortable with blowing your own trumpet, the more informed you are, the easier it is – trust me!

In the words of Dale Carnegie, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”