HR rep vents on paying women less, and how to avoid it

Great find from Reddit:

I work for a large multinational tech company, I regularly hire woman for 65% to 75% of what males make. I am sick of it, here is why it happens, and how you can avoid it. (self.TwoXChromosomes)

Obviously this is a throwaway, my employer would be far from happy to see me talking about this. I am not a researcher and can’t offer and statistics, just what I see in my day to day job.

Today I finished interviewing my third new hire this month, two of which are women. They both are getting paid substantially less than the man I hired earlier this month, and to be honest I am getting tired of that. I don’t set the wages, I just handle negotiations (HR has to approve every offer I make).

Our process, despite the pay gap, is identical for men and women. We start with phone interviews, and move into a personal and technical interview. Once a candidate passes both of those, we start salary negotiations. This is where the women seem to come in last.

The reason they don’t keep up, from where I sit, is simple. Often, a woman will enter the salary negotiation phase and I’ll tell them a number will be sent to them in a couple days. Usually we start around $45k for an entry level position. 50% to 60% of the women I interview simply take this offer. It’s insane, I already know I can get authorization for more if you simply refuse. Inversely, almost 90% of the men I interview immediately ask for more upon getting the offer.

The next major mistake happens with how they ask for more. In general, the women I have negotiated with will say 45k is not enough and they need more, but not give a number. I will then usually give a nominal bump to 48k or 50k. Company policy won’t let me bump more than 5k over the initial offer unless they specifically request more. On the other hand, men more frequently will come back with a number along the lines of 65k to 75k, and I will be forced to negotiate down from there. After this phase, almost all women will take the offer or move on to somewhere else, not knowing they could have gotten more if they asked.

At the end, most of the women I hire make between 45k and 50k, whereas the men make between 60k and 70k. Even more crazy, they ask for raises far less often, so the disparity only grows.

I don’t know if this is at all helpful, I feel most of it is common sense, but I see it all the time. How can I help?

TL;DR :

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for more, it’s not insulting or in any way going to affect your ability to be hired (we can always say no)
  • When you ask for more, give a number! If you let me pick, I will continue to lowball it.
  • Ask for raises, confident people get them more often than high performers in a heavy bureaucracy.

On a small sidenote, the one person who got the most out of us was a highly aggressive, very smart, very confident woman. She nearly doubled the initial offer, which due to how she marketed herself was already pretty high.

edit – spelling error

edit 2 – going home, will respond to stuff when I have eaten dinner 🙂

edit 3 – g’night all! It was fun, happy hunting, and please, next time we meet, negotiate with me!

The only catch to this is that some studies have found that women who negotiate for more money are seen as pushy and mean. Talk about a Catch 22! The trick then is to negotiate in a kiss-ass sort of way, basically, “I deserve this money because I can do THIS for your company, I can help with THIS thing, and make YOUR company better, etc., etc…”

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