We Don’t Want Equal Pay, We Want Fair Pay (Guest Post)

Lauren is a litigation solicitor based in Sydney. She is passionate about advocating for women and worker’s rights. She runs a blog at http://lawyerlauren.com.

When she’s not arguing, writing or trying to stay awake in meetings, she cooks, surfs and tries to manage her comedy club and yoga addiction.

We want fair pay

A protest event.

Pay gaps, sexism and gender inequality make up some of the hottest topics on the corporate playground at the moment. It’s generally agreed that the cards are stacked against women when it comes to pay. It’s generally agreed that society and organisational culture continues to slam the door in the face of the career progression for many women. However, we’re often so hung up contrasting salaries and bonuses with Mr Desk-Next-Door, that we rarely take the time to assess what equal pay even is, and whether that’s actually what we want.

I often hear women reeling about how their male colleagues being paid substantially more than they are. However, when I push for numbers, very few women can actually give me any figures. I’ll ask, what do you think you should be paid? And they’ll look bashful, and mutter something about being paid the same as their male colleagues. Reading between the lines, most women don’t have a clue what they should be paid, because they’ve never taken the time to evaluate what their skill set is actually worth. If you haven’t researched the market, or thought about what numerical value your skills bring to your industry, then chances are you’ll have no choice but to accept any old average number your employer slaps on the table. Simply because you are without any rebuttable to negotiate otherwise.

Equal pay implies that women should be paid the same as men. Full stop. The end. It sounds great, but this egalitarian concept is too generic and unrefined to be realistically applied in practice. To say that all men and women should receive the same sized slice of pie, regardless of their experience, skills, ambition, ability and achievements within their industry is misguided. A one-size-fits-all approach is not what we really want.

Yes, we can say we’re disadvantaged by organisational culture. Yes, we can say we’re hindered by sexism. Yes, can say our society needs to move towards great empowerment of women. But we as individuals can take matters into our own hands. I believe part of the solution to closing the ‘gender pay gap’ is to:

  1. Stop focusing on what men are earning; and
  2. Start focusing on being paid what you’re worth.

We all know the statistics of men earning more. It’s raw and it’s real, but you don’t have to become a statistic. Nobody will ever pay you what you’re worth, they will only ever pay you what they think you’re worth. Therefore, it’s within your control to influence their thinking to ensure it matches your ideals.

I don’t believe in equality when it comes to pay. Simply because equal does not mean fair. Regardless of gender, if you’re a driven and enthusiastic performer at work, you want to be recognised for your achievements and results. Why should you be paid the same as the lazy sod who rocks at 9.10 am every morning and is more concerned about a Facebook feed than owning the day? Fair is the concept that really matters. Get rid of gender. An individual assessment of merit is what we should be pushing for.

Compacting your skills and experience into an annual numerical figure is not an easy task. In fact, it can pose more questions than answers. Women are naturally far more modest than men, but sadly, humility doesn’t pay dollars in performance reviews or job interviews. So it’s easier to beat our drum to the tune of being paid the same as men. Market rates are just a guide. You may be worth more, but if you’re not sure, how can you expect your employer to be?

I’m not suggesting that men are busy drawing up excel spreadsheets, analysing data or ferociously researching the job market to investigate the numerical worth of their skill set. However, men tend to have a natural assertiveness and confidence that serves them well when it comes to negotiating salaries. They simply state their desired salary and benefits as facts not questions, they don’t ask permission to be paid more.

Being paid the same as everyone else, sets the bar pretty low, and isn’t really a solution to the years of misogynistic oppression women have endured, and continue to fight against. Yes you’re worth more, but it’s a case of advocating for yourself. Nobody will do it for you.

Call to action:

  1. Don’t ask, insist – if you’re not assertive in your performance review and insist on having a salary rise that meets your expectations, then you’re accepting less. You choose your salary based on your response and your ability to negotiate.
  2. Prepare your case and know your worth – if you can go into any interview, performance review or salary negotiation meeting with confidence; knowing what your value’s worth, how your skills are maximising results for the company and it’s clients and how you’re exceeding expectation, you haven’t asked for a raise, you’ve proven you deserve one.
  3. Stop comparing your salary to your neighbour’s – their salary depends on a number of variables you are unlikely to be privy to. Focus on the value of your package and how you can present your worth based on what you bring to the table.

Equal pay will not balance the scales. We want fair pay. Let’s take gender out of the equation and demand to be assessed on the value of our skills, achievements, experience, knowledge and individual merit. Because that’s not equal, that’s fair.

Recommended read to help with your call to action: Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, by Lois P. Frankel. Get it here.

Got a question or a hot topic? I’d love to hear from you.

Welcoming lawyer Lauren to the women's blog

Meet Lauren.

Tweet me @lvalawyer

Add me on LinkedIn:   https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenvanarendonk/

Read and comment at: http://lawyerlauren.com

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55 thoughts on “We Don’t Want Equal Pay, We Want Fair Pay (Guest Post)

      • Excellent, Christy. Me… doubtful. This is the third weekend that I’ve been incapacitated by an especially nasty sinus/allergy/asthma thing. I’m finally getting better, if the cough would go away. But they said the cough might last 6 more weeks — at least the other symptoms are finally getting better. I know all that is just a little thing compared to what so many people go through. Even so, I don’t expect to accomplish much writing. Or editing either.
        Sorry not to have a blog related comment. Equal pay is a huge issue with me, so I couldn’t appropriately consolidate my thoughts. More hugs and happy writing. 🙂

      • No need to apologize, Teagan. I know you read what publishes here and I consider that high praise. Sorry to hear you’re not doing well 😦 I send healing thoughts and a gentle hug. Wishing you a long rest this weekend xx Thanks for the encouraging words too

  1. This is my rallying cry! So many of us don’t realize that we set the tone of how we’re compensated…This line right here is perfect!

    “They simply state their desired salary and benefits as facts not questions, they don’t ask permission to be paid more.”

  2. I agree with this. Take gender out of the issue, be a hard working go-getter and go for what you are meritoriously worth.
    Although, I also ask why should a lack luster non-getter man make more than a lack luster non-getter woman?
    Strange, but true, not everyone is driven to be successful. They just want to earn a living.

  3. You know Christy, this was the most interesting post because it said everything that my dad said all the years ago about this whole issue. ( I had a most unusual upbringing that way for the time.) He would well be telling Lauren to step forward in every way.

  4. Great post, Christy & good to meet you Lauren
    I´ll speak for what I know
    Equal pay FOR EQUAL WORK is what The Argentine Constitution states (***art 14 bis)
    That would be probably be related to fair pay more than just “equal”.
    Now t achieve that ideal women need to stand up for their rights. Some legislations are more fair than others in this sense. As far as I know for documentaries I have watched the situation in US is not the best one when it comes to labor guarantees (vacation are shorter than in Europe for instance and there are no huge protections to pregnant women.
    Maybe Laureen as a lawyer can tell us more about Australia, too.
    Love & best wishes. 😀 ⭐


    *** Article 14 bis. Labor in its diverse forms shall enjoy the protection of the law, which shall ensure to workers: dignified and equitable working conditions; a limited working day; paid days of rest and vacation; fair remuneration; adjustable minimum living wages; equal pay for equal work; a share in the earnings of enterprises, with control over production and collaboration in management; protection against arbitrary discharge; permanence of public employment; free and democratic organization of labor unions, recognized simply by inscription in a special register.

    • Hi Aqui, don’t even get me started on the Trump administration and women ~ That would be a loooong comment.. But I appreciate learning about Argentina’s laws on this. Lauren makes so many good points and your comment here reflects how it is one that makes us ponder.. Interesting how you bring to light the differences in the various countries and how different yet alike we are in our struggles for women. Wonderful to see you, dear star ♥

  5. A huge thank you and shout out to Christy for having me guest post on such an important topic. Thank you, everyone, for your comments. Being open minded to hearing a different stance on such a potentially sensitive issue can be difficult. I believe one of the best ways to begin change is to challenge opinions. The law has a long way to go in assisting women to be empowered. However, there is so much we can do as individuals to foster positive change within our homes, workplaces and communities. I look forward to hearing how everyone’s next salary review goes 😉

    • Lauren, believe me when I say it is my pleasure to have you here for this guest blog. The topic is very important and by questioning the assumptions of society only then can we move ahead to shatter the glass ceiling. Yes re the salary review 😉 I’ll certainly think about your post when it comes to the next projects I take!

  6. Such a thoughtful article from Lauren, and I love her concept of fair pay and the reasoning behind it. “they will only ever pay you what they think you’re worth” This is so true about what others can think. Others can think what they are want to think. But it is certainly up to us to do the best we can to show what we deserve. If we can build up knowledge and skills, we better ourselves and let our work do the talking. Of course, sometimes this is easier said than done given how legislation and organisation culture goes, but starting with ourselves will imspire others to do the same and one day, things will change 🙂

    • It’s tough sometimes to stand up for ourselves but Lauren’s post serves as a great reminder for women, as well as exploring whether pay ought to be equal or fair. Appreciate your comment Mabel, and, in particular, your optimism 🙂

  7. Interesting intro to a legal professional, and one who appears to think logically on a topical issue. Equal pay in work or professional sports will be a non-starter as it hardly makes sense specially when the output is significantly different. The ideal to be pursued is equity and fair play. Equitable returns on efforts invested, be it male or female, ought to be the conclusive solution. Thanks Christy for the great variety of your offerings in poetic parfait and inspiring women…😋👍

    • So great to see you here Lana and to know Lauren’s post has had such impact on readers. The weekend was nice, including a BBQ! I hope you had a great weekend too 🙂

  8. Yes!! So great of you, Christy! You have been reblogging some movers and shakers in the areas of Art, peace and women. All need support and they make our lives better by their efforts. . . And your voice is showing as a big influence in the blogging community. I am impressed that some recent posts have touched over a hundred people to press like! We all need more of you, making a difference! Thank you Lauren, for a great reminder about our value in this world. Fair Pay is a great way to express this. . .

  9. Such an excellent post with profound thought. Exactly Lauren’s point – pay equality she be based on an individual’s performance regardless of gender. Get paid what we’re worth. Wouldn’t that be fantastic for authors, lol? 🙂 ❤

  10. Apologies, Christy, for arriving here a few days late, but I’m glad I got here! This is a super article expressing an alternative way of looking at the gender equity issue in the workplace and in society in general.

  11. This is a very interesting question. I am a chartered accountant and am fairly senior in my company. I am an associate director at my company but I am not a partner. To a large extent this has been my own choice as I have a family and I did not want to make the same unconditional time commitment as my male colleagues. I am not meaning with the work I produce, as that is of a very high standard, but I don’t play the game in the same way the men do. I don’t attend the golf days, stay for drinks and socials after work and go away for conferences. If you don’t do these things you can’t progress in the same way – rightly or wrongly. Just some food for thought!

    • It’s tough that those extra-curricular activities are stopping you from moving higher in the ranks. Those men who are partaking in the golf and drinks activities likely have families too yet they are not held to the same demands at home as women, by the sounds of it.. You’ve brought up good points here, Robbie!

  12. It’s amazing that equal rights and equal pay can cross the divides of race, religion, and creed, but not gender. Equal and fair pay should be for all, regardless of skin color, political affiliation, or sex. Only then will be living up to the principals our country was founded on.

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