In this year's presidential race, the workplace has ranked high among the issues, with unemployment and job creation at the center of seemingly endless speeches and debates. Also on the list, although much lower, is equal pay and the stubborn wage gap between men and women. Last week, the U.S.
Census Bureau released data that women are still making 77 cents to the dollar compared to men,
despite the fact that President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act and created a National Equal Pay Task Force.
So what can women do as they wait on Washington? There's no simple answer, but like most salary negotiations, it begins with research. Before you claim that your male colleague is unfairly cashing fatter paychecks than you, consider a few key points. "Do you and your male counterpart have the same schooling, skills and years of experience?" asks Nicole Williams, LinkedIn's connections director. "What is the difference between your responsibilities? Can you determine the amount of money he has made or saved for the firm?"
If the playing field seems even, it's time to broach a sensitive subject with your boss: a very warranted pay raise. And while there's no question that men and women should be paid equally, a little hard evidence won't hurt your case. "Take a professional approach," explains Michael Timmes, a human resources specialist at Insperity. "Present a business case to support your position that you should be making a higher salary."
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Many experts say to avoid talking about how much a co-worker makes, regardless of sex. Instead, give your boss some hard data. "Connect your LinkedIn profile to PayScale to find out what you're worth in the job market, and bring the findings of your PayScale Salary Report to your HR department or supervisor," encourages Williams. "This will prevent a professional conversation from becoming personal."