Do you know how much your coworkers make? If you haven’t asked, you may think you know already. Yet studies have shown that people can only guess their coworker’s salaries half of the time. That means the person your department with similar experience to you could be making a lot more or less than you think. If you avoid money topics at work because you feel talking about salary with your coworkers is taboo, you may miss out on some valuable information.
Talking about money and sharing salaries allows you to compare the value of your work to others in the same company. This information can then be used to ensure you’re being compensated fairly. Even talking about salary negotiations and benefits with friends is an important way to stay on top of your professional development.
The Money Conversation
The stakes are even higher for female professionals. Women still only make about 79 cents to the dollar that a man makes. While society and hiring managers have a huge role to play in closing that wage gap, there is an important aspect of the money conversation most of us are missing: The conversation itself, in fact.
61% of women would rather talk about death than money, and only 30% ever ask for a raise compared to 41% of men. Due in part to their avoidance of investing, by the time they retire, women have a third less saved than men on average.
Women’s avoidance of money and finance topics is due in huge part to how the way they were talked to growing up. Young girls are taught to budget more often than invest, and women are often portrayed in media as frivolous spenders. This creates a conditioned belief among women that money just isn’t their strong suit, so they’d be better off not bringing it up.
We can’t control the messages that we read and the subtle biases that we encounter at work or in our everyday lives, but women can still make a difference by taking back the conversation around money.
Here are some simple ways to incorporate money conversations in your own life, to make getting the pay you deserve easier than ever:
Talk to Your Coworkers:
Ask someone you feel comfortable with what they make, and if they’ve asked for a raise. It may be easier to begin with advice on asking for a raise, then bring the topic to comparing salaries. You have a right to be able to discuss salaries, so don’t let any work environment scare you off.
Bring the Conversation into Your Life:
Even when not at work, how you talk about money can make a difference. If you share finances with a partner, ensure you’re staying involved and informed about any decisions the two of you make. Question your impulse to avoid talking about money even in small situations, like if a cashier shortchanges you.
Set Goals and Go After Them:
Make yourself more aware of where you really want to be financially. Set long term goals like retiring with a certain amount, and short-term goals like paying off your car. Once you know what it will take to achieve the goals, do what you can to reach them — especially if this means asking for a raise.
For more insights and advice on how to get the money conversation started, check out this infographic by Turbo. Start talking about salary, it’s for your own benefit as well as other women!