The Loudest Voice No One Can Hear
This was going to be a post about lace. I was going to go into depth about how one could wear it many different ways. But the more I thought about it, the more my mind told me, ‘what kind of difference is this going to make to anyone’s life?’ To this end, I decided to circumnavigate to the topic of something that I have recently become much more passionate about. It’s weird – I always agreed with this particular topic, however, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Until, I found myself in the midst of it. The topic I am referring to is the gender pay gap.
I’ve been in the corporate* world for about four and a half years now. During this time, I have managed to discover my talents and pursue them – which is a feat not many my age can say they have been able to do. I have been with the same company for the majority of that time and let me tell you, it’s a big company – therefore, lots of opportunity for internal growth. For the past three years, this company has put my talents to good use and I was happy for them to do so as that meant I could learn and get paid at the same time. However, they only gave me a job title to match my skills and tasks in the last three months. Prior to that, my title reflected a position that only provided administrative support to others when, in actual fact, I was providing in-depth reporting and data analysis to a much broader department. I became that person who knew more than the managers and would be the point of contact for key stakeholders. But it was only until three months ago that they fully acknowledged my work.
That was all well and good when I thought it was leading to something much more, and soon. But then came the real kicker. With my new title came a new team and with my new team came people who had similar skill sets as me, some much more advanced and some just a touch ahead of me – some would consider us on the same level. For the past three months, I had been trying to chase higher management regarding my pay. Surely, since I was on par with my teammates this meant that I would be getting paid in a range closer to them – right? Those three months went by and I finally heard back from upstairs. No.
Sorry? Excuse me? No?? That’s right, no. The 5% pay increase I received during my annual review** was it. Even though I am contractually bound to get an increase in line with inflation every year which meant that my actual pay increase for my new role was closer to 2%. It was like a kick in the gut. How could this be? My knowledge is on par with my counterparts so why am I getting paid $20-30k less than them? I could only think of one reason: all my teammates are male. I know that one of their arguments is that one particular teammate has one year’s experience being in an actual ‘analyst’ role, even though I’ve unofficially been an analyst in this same department for three years (which the higher-ups know). So, even if I accept that point, does that mean that in one year’s time, they will up my pay by $20-30k? I think not.
So, that is how I found myself in the middle of the present day issue – gender pay inequality. My company preaches that they are one of the leaders in making a difference to this – but I am experiencing first-hand that this is most definitely not the case. But I can’t entirely blame the company. How can they identify one employee’s pay out of tens of thousands?
A solution to my problem would be to speak up (which they really encourage these days). But to what end? I speak up, I tell my managers that I think this is a load of crap (obviously in a much more professional way); they may or may not change it. What then? My managers will always see me as that troublesome girl who made a huge fuss, I will have the whole situation documented on my HR file, and the next time I apply for a job internally, that hiring manager will be able to see the whole situation. Let’s be honest, who wants to hire a ‘whinger’?
Look, I’m sure it could all go well for me if I raised my hand and voiced my concerns. But with your whole life riding on the money you bring home, who wants to take that risk? Not me. So what do we do?
*Corporate = office job
**I started my new role on 1 July – which meant that my review was meant to be for the previous financial year – i.e. my previous role. That’s what both my manager at the time and I thought