You may have just found out that your coworker is being paid more than you or you are interested in what you should do, in the event that your salary research reveals that your coworker is being paid more than you. The equal pay debate is something that will just not go away. We’ve seen it with film stars, tennis players, more recently with BBC journalists and in big tech companies. Corporate and creative careers are not an exception.
Here’s what you need to do if you intend on resolving the situation.
1. Lead with the facts
At this stage you are likely to have an emotional response that involves shock, anger, disgust and so on. It’s very important to stay level headed and take a practical approach by firstly gathering the facts. You need to consider as part of your fact gathering relative experience, qualifications, pay grading structures, joining times and also how true the information you have might be. Be sure that the way you found out this information is not something that will discredit you in any conversations or get you into trouble. Pay secrecy does not come into play if you suspect inequality because of gender or any other protected characteristic.
2. Gather your personal evidence
Before you make any formal or informal accusations you need to be sure that your work is of the standard that is expected of you. This can be anything from time keeping, producing a high standard of work, being on time with your projects, getting on with your coworkers etc. These are not reasons to justify you being paid less but are issues you can raise to support your discussion and an indication of your value and commitment.
3. Put your facts in writing
This is no doubt a sensitive issue and so your approach should be both professional and non-confrontational. Putting your facts in writing will allow you to frame the discussion professionally whilst taking out any emotion that might lead to negative outcomes. Writing your facts will allow you to organise your thoughts well and get a second opinion from trusted people that are not in the situation. It will also give you a documented audit trail for reference, which will be useful should you wish to pursue matters further in the future. Familiarise yourself with your internal processes for dealing with issues like this.
4. Ask for a meeting
As well as having a written response you should also have a face-to-face meeting with your manager. This will allow you to have an honest and open discussion and also gauge their sincerity and desire to resolve matters. A face-to-face meeting is a good opportunity to clear up misunderstandings, ill feelings and ensure that the matter is resolved without further awkwardness. Make a commitment to remain professional in all your dealings. This is especially important if you don’t get the outcome you want. Try not burn any bridges.
5. Decide if you are going to stay
Just because you discover the inequality and address the issue it doesn’t mean the outcome will always be favourable. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case whether you agree or not with them. It would be very simplistic advice to say that you need to leave your current employment immediately without another job lined up if you don’t get a raise. There maybe cases for that for example if the process results in you being victimized for raising the issue. In such cases there may be grounds for constructive dismissal but those are extreme cases. To put your best foot going forward remain professional and take on board the feedback, if you are staying do your best work and get regular feedback. Whether you leave or stay learning how to negotiate better will help you improve your future pay discussions.
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