What is April 12? This is the day women must work until in order to make the same amount of money men made last year. It's the day we celebrate Equal Pay Day, a day which hopefully will be earlier and earlier each year to come.
It seems strange to celebrate a day that shouldn't need to be a holiday in the first place. Instead of “celebrating” by drowning our underpaid sorrows in wine and spite, let's focus on ways we can work to bridge the gap. Let's be determined, passionate and clear about what we want and deserve.
Let's have a reason to celebrate this day in the future. Let's take the time to celebrate the baby steps and congratulate the women who are making strides in a patriarchal society and workplace each and every day. The gender gap within the workplace may seem like a daunting social wall to climb, however, there are things we can do to create a better world for future women.
Here are 11 ways to incorporate this immensely important fight into your daily routine:
1. Create mentorships.
As young female professionals, we truly cannot fully comprehend all of the ground that has been covered by previous badass working ladies before us. However, to do this, all you have to do is ask. Engage in conversations with successful women in your life. Ask them about the male and female dynamics they have encountered in the working world and learn from their experiences.
You may be surprised by the stories and experiences they have to share. Seek out mentoring opportunities in your city and in your field to connect with successful women. By creating a community between us all, we can increase communication, build a team of successful women working together and support each other personally and professionally. Together we can change the societal stigma facing working women each and every day.
2. Pay attention to company leadership.
When applying and searching for your next job, do your homework on the business you may work for. Look at the leadership. Are there women holding leadership roles? Are minorities and diversity present in their workforce?
By deciphering whether workplace differences are celebrated rather than tolerated, you can understand the perspectives of the companies you are interested in. By applying to openminded organizations working to close the pay gap, we can change the popularity. If the job seekers are all passionate about working for equally paying employers, the rest of the workforce will eventually need to change to meet the demand.
3. Learn to negotiate.
Asking for raises can be terrifying. According to research, women are less likely to negotiate over salary in the workplace. Let's change that data. Negotiation is a common part of acquiring a job. Do your homework and research the best way to negotiate salary. Resources from Forbes and Inc. are available with tips and strategies.
Research the industry wide standards for pay between men and women so you are educated on what salary you should be getting. Another useful resource can be mentors. Male and female mentors can help you navigate negotiations as they will have significant experience on both sides of the table in this respect. Go get the money you deserve.
4. Thanks, Obama.
Obama recently came out with a plan to increase business transparency with companies reporting their salary data so as to better monitor pay discrepancies across gender, class and race. This is a step in the right direction. So follow up on these reports in the future so you can research companies and be aware of the salary differences you may be experiencing. Thanks, Obama.
5. Get involved in politics.
More than just voting, learn about the perspectives and issues of your local representatives. Some politicians may have a weekly email update or a Facebook page where you can stay updated on bills and debates you may be able to contribute to. Write to your politicians to give them your community's perspective. Volunteer with local campaigns, canvass and join committees or boards to diversify the perspectives of your local government. Give your voice a platform to be heard.
6. Have self-confidence.
Did you know one of the biggest reasons why women don't start their own business isn't lack of money or ideas? It's lack of self-confidence. This means that a lack of belief in one's self has far reaching economic ripples. Don't let society tell you that your dreams are impossible.
Do what makes you happy, tell yourself you are worthy and go make your business ideas a financial reality. Use resources and join movements like Empowering A Billion Women 2020 to unite with other female entrepreneurs to help inspire confidence, support and success.
The presidential election is crucial this coming November. Vote for the candidates you feel are going to make progress for women across the board, especially in the gender pay gap. Don't forget about your local elections.
A large number of House and Senate seats are up for re-election this year, and without representatives who are aware and working to decrease the pay gap, Equal Pay Day will remain in April year after year. Contact your local representatives to find out where they stand and use local platforms such as Votalize to educate yourself on your local representatives and how you can get involved.
8. This is not just a women's issue.
Remember, this isn't a battle for just women to fight. Get your company involved. Talk to your husbands, boyfriends, brothers and fathers to help them understand the issues and clear ways they can help. By helping the men in your life to understand how this feels and how we can help, you'll be surprised by eager they are to get involved and right these wrongs.
Paying women equally and narrowing the ratio of men and women in the workplace benefits everyone. For example, research shows when companies have an equal number of male and female executives they are significantly more successful than those with predominantly male executives. It's for the greater good here, people.
9. Have difficult conversations.
In some cases, it seems people are unaware the pay gap even exists, and if so, they feel it must be justified. There is no justification why women should be making 79 cents to the dollar a man makes. Having difficult conversations with people who don't understand the pay gap is crucial to changing opinion and uniting the workforce.
Use data and research to articulately express the need for change to people who may not see the light. Helping half the population will increase revenue and productivity across the board. Whether this is a personal or professional fight for you, the benefits of increasing pay for women and increasing the presence of women in the workforce overall is highly beneficial economically and just from a basic human rights standpoint.
10. April 12 is relative.
Equal Pay Day is actually different for other communities. Equal Pay Day isn't until November 1 if you're Latina. It isn't until August 23 for African American women. Let's work for all people to be respected, paid and viewed equally in society. This is a fight for gender, class and race. Be aware of your own privilege and use it to educate and inspire.
11. Create your own voice.
Keep up with news articles and literature on women in the workplace. Write about it. Surround yourself with the words, research and emotions on this injustice to create your own opinion. Speak with an educated passion to your own community. This will open people's eyes to catalyze social and political action.
Get out there and be confident in everything that makes you who you are. Your voice is just as pivotal as everyone else's in creating change. Once you realize that, you'll be unstoppable.