It was the single most defining moment of my career. After being at the E! network nearly 12 years, it was brought to my attention that my male counterpart was making more than double my salary. We had been working there the same amount of time, we had similar experience, a similar public profile, similar everything. We were doing the same job and for all intents and purposes we were positioned as equals. In a closed-door meeting one afternoon, a female executive alerted me that I was being severely underpaid. I was surprised, humiliated and angry. Moving forward, I would ask for what I knew I deserved.
Once negotiations collapsed and the company refused to meet me even in the ballpark of his salary, it became clear I would plan my departure. Since I wasn’t invited to stay on my own terms, I would say farewell to viewers around the world while also painfully saying my goodbyes to my work family of more than a decade. But what I didn’t know was the work that would lie before me.
After an overwhelmingly supportive response to my stand from both Hollywood and the public, I knew it was my duty to be part of the change for women everywhere. My story wasn’t singular. Women the world over, across all industries, are being underpaid, undervalued, and more often than not, suffering in silence.
You see, now I have a much better understanding of the pervasive, systematic realities of wage inequality and I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you. There is a collective understanding that Time is in fact Up, but what are we going to do to make lasting change? Beyond legislation, marches and the movement as a whole, there are choices we can all make to ensure we shrink the pay gap between men and women and create a more level playing field at work. After all, paying women more money doesn’t just help us, it helps our families and our economies. Everyone benefits.
I’m forever indebted to all of the brave women who came before me and used their voices. They gave me the courage to use my own. And without this sisterhood of women, without this unity between us all, we would be far less impactful in our pursuits for equality. So get busy being your absolute best. We are all counting on you.
If you want to be paid more, if you want a promotion, if you want to be compensated fairly –speak up. You need to be vocal with your boss about your enthusiasm and intentions to climb the ladder. Knock on their door. Check in with them about your performance and progress. Ask for feedback. Contribute ideas.
You have to be your own advocate. Not only do you have to bet on yourself, but you should also keep a log of your accomplishments. Be able to provide legitimate examples of how you’re a valuable employee. This will be crucial for negotiating.
Some 70% of women don’t even think to negotiate their salary. To get more comfortable in a negotiation, prepare relentlessly. Role play with people you trust. Try and take the emotion out of it (practice will help with that). And remember, back up your requests with all that proof you have kept on record.
Take it from me, no matter what job you have or how happy you are at your current place of employment, things can always change. Employers can turn on a dime. I built up enough of a nest egg that I was able to walk away from my job when I was mistreated.
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