I firmly believe that a person should be earning the same salary for the same work no matter what gender they are, and yet, this equality comes at a price. That price is often the difference in getting or not getting an offer of employment.
Having lost a few jobs recently to women who have less experience than I do, I started to notice a rather odd coincidence. I am calling it a coincidence because I really don’t want to believe it is the reason they were chosen over me. However, having compared notes with a few other colleagues looking for work, both men and women seem to agree with my unfortunate conclusions.
For some jobs, it is the price of compensation that makes the real difference. Experience is seen as a costly choice, and one that can be traded for less compensation along with less experience. For employers who believe that women will accept lower compensation to get an offer, they lean toward hiring and negotiating with women. One of my executive recruiter friends said that women will often accept or negotiate lower salaries to get the offer and employers lean toward those candidates.
He further said that women that know their worth and have strong negotiating skills are often put in the same pile as their male counterparts. Only if an employer cannot find their bargain hire, do they start sifting through this second pile of applicants.
So if you are open to accepting lower compensation, you have a much better chance of getting a job offer. But if you are not, then you remain unemployed. While the goal for every applicant is both employment and equal compensation, when the choice is employment over unemployment, compensation takes a back seat.
While I cannot yet see where mandatory laws to force equal pay for every job is a winning proposition for anyone, I am also not ready to concede that leaving things as they are now is such a winning proposition either. When we accept lower compensation as a trade for employment, we are doing ourselves harm. But if we need a job, maybe the tradeoff is worth it.
What are your thoughts?
It has been 20 years since a friend and I worked together at the same company when she was an instructional designer and I was a trainer. She was one of the best instructional designers I’ve ever worked with, and I loved training any workshop she designed. While a good trainer can at times save a poorly designed workshop, I never had to save anything she designed, and we both ended up looking good. She used to say, “I’m on Team Hopkins, and my job is to back you up in the classroom.”
We spoke on the phone the other day about the challenges I’ve had in getting back into the workforce after consulting for so long. (Honestly, if I hear one more time that I am too experienced for the job I’m going to crack.) We talked about how less experience means “younger” and “cheaper to employ” and there was little I could do to combat these challenges. She then said, “well you know I’m still on Team Hopkins, so anything you need, just let me know.”
After hanging up from our call, that simple offer of help was so powerful because she added this whole reference to being On My Team! I may have a thousand plus contacts in LinkedIn, but I realized that my real team is made up of very few actual members. While the circle of people that would support me if I asked is pretty large, the inner circle of proactive team members is very small. This inner circle team is made up of people who refer job opportunities, reach out to their contacts to help me find opportunities and are basically an extension of my job hunting efforts without being asked.
I decided to look at the people that really are on my team, and make a list of names. These should also be the same people, I am thinking, that I should also be supporting. Maybe it is because I am looking for work that I am always referring opportunities I run across to my friends and associates. During the recent period of reflecting on who is on my team, I realized that several dozen people have found work in the past couple of years through my help. And yet, not a single one of them has tried to repay the favor. While I was definitely on their team, I had to realize that they have never been on my team.
Getting back into the corporate world from the consulting world has become much harder than I thought it would be. I need help, and if you want to join Team Hopkins, you are welcome anytime!