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Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

  • The gender pay gap hasn’t closed much in the last 20 years
  • Societal issues such as gender bias and unequal work at home must be addressed to close the gap
  • In the short-term, negotiating salary can help women close the gap

Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey shows that the gender wage gap in Canada has declined over time, but remains persistent. In February 2024, “women aged 25 to 54 earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by men of the same age group.”

Additionally, recent findings from the Pew Research Center show that in the U.S. women earn an average of 82 per cent of what men earn. In 2002, women earned 80 per cent as much as men.

Pay gaps can be calculated in a few different ways. Some calculations may just look at base pay while others include bonuses and commissions or only look at full- or part-time employees.

“Any way you slice it, there’s a gap,” says Jillian Climie, co-founder of The Thoughtful Co., a Canadian consultancy that exclusively works with women in negotiating their compensation.

Bridging the gap at a macro level

Ms. Climie says there are three main reasons that the gender pay gap exists.

First, everyone has biases, and “these impact who we hire, how we assess performance and how people are compensated,” she says.

She advises companies to create more structure to limit unconscious bias in the workplace.

For example, performance scorecards, sponsorship programs that ensure equitable access to senior positions and annual pay audits.

Next, Ms. Climie points to the often unequal delineation of responsibilities at home.

She says that if we can find ways to share the workload at home more evenly, women can show up with the same energy and time as men often can.

Lastly, women are less likely to negotiate their salary because of the way they have been socialized.

Ms. Climie says that on one hand, women are expected to be nice and agreeable at work, while on the other they are expected to be assertive and be seen as a leader and get promoted.

“Women are constantly balancing these conflicting demands in the workplace. When you throw negotiating into the mix, I think a lot of women choose to not go too high – or maybe not negotiate at all,” she says.

Negotiating to close the gap

While the pay gap issue is multi-faceted, Ms. Climie says “negotiating can have such a substantial impact on an individual basis, and I think it can make a dent in the gender pay gap.”

One study that cites research from 2003 shows that a $1,000 difference in starting salary could translate to about $500,000 lost over the course of a person’s career – a number Ms. Climie believes to now be higher.

She shares three mistakes to avoid when negotiating salary:

  1. Don’t talk too much: Ms. Climie says women can often “talk themselves out of a negotiation in real time” by giving too much of a rationale or filling uncomfortable pauses with reasons for why a raise may not be possible.
  2. Don’t accept an offer on the spot: Even if you’re presented with a great salary, she says to remember that you should take your time to consider the bonus structure, equity, severance and other terms of the contract.
  3. Don’t over-rely on external factors: When you use things like market data or inflation to justify a higher salary, “you’re really negotiating for everyone at that time,” she says, because everyone at your company – or in your country – are affected by those factors. Focus on the key value you bring to an organization as an individual.

“Ideally, we should live in a world where everyone gets equal pay for equal work, but we are not there yet,” Ms. Climie says. “So it’s important to be negotiating in the short term; and hopefully the long-term work is more of that structural change.”

What I’m reading around the web

  • LinkedIn plans to add gaming to the platform, as part of the company’s broader strategy to increase monetization and user interaction. Although there is no official launch date, you can expect puzzlelike games like Wordle.
  • Remote work comes with many benefits, but there are challenges too – like workers feeling isolated and lonely. Harvard Business Review offers four evidence-based strategies to help leaders build a stronger sense of community among dispersed teams.
  • According to a study from Indeed, 49 per cent of Canadian job postings on the site in February 2024 included pay information, up from 22 per cent in 2019. However, this information is included less often in white collar job postings.

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