Pay Equity

The year 2020 marks the 57th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing into law the Equal Pay ActMany jurisdictions have now outlawed asking for applicants’ pay history, which  is a practice which has led to pay disparities. It is evident that legislation alone is not sufficient to bring about equality in compensation in the legal profession or in society as a whole.  Nonetheless, the Colorado Women’s Bar Association has made significant efforts towards passing meaningful legislation. Read about their efforts here.

Women’s bar associations are uniquely situated to be change agents in the struggle for pay equity by educating their members and the public about the issue and by providing skills training on how to negotiate compensation.  Research by Hannah Riley Bowles, Senior Lecturer of Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, shows that compensation negotiation strategies that work for men may not be effective for women.  Here are tips gleaned from Hannah Riley Bowles’ work. Here are her thoughts on Why Women Don’t Negotiate Their Job Offers.

Negotiating Compensation and Advocacy by Women’s Bar Associations

“In this economy and with my student loans, I am just lucky to be offered any job–I don’t want risk losing this chance by asking for more money.”  Sound familiar?  Whether you are just out of law school or an experienced attorney being offered the job of your dreams, take time to negotiate.  Negotiation doesn’t mean asking for what you “deserve.”  It is about asking for what is fair and right.  In the long run, everyone is more comfortable when compensation, benefits and working conditions are appropriate to the position.

Even skilled advocates are often very uncomfortable negotiating on their own behalf. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg describes her hesitancy to negotiate when she was offered a job with Facebook.  “I was ready to accept the job.  no, I was dying to accept the job.  My husband, David, kept telling me to negotiate, but I was afraid of doing anything that might botch the deal.”  It wasn’t until her brother-in law said in exasperation “Why are you going to make less than any man would make to do the same job?”   He asked this not because he knew the details of the deal but because he knew it was the first offer.

Make resources on negotiating pay available to your members.  Here is a tip sheet and other resources for negotiating salary by Carol Frohlinger of Negotiating Women.  Here are thoughts about salary negotiation from Melanie Billings-Yun. Here are “12 Tips for Getting the Salary You Want” from Jacquelyn Smith. Here are “10 Things Never to Say While Negotiating a Job Offer” from Liz Ryan. She Negotiates offers free resources and links to recommended books and online courses.

The American Bar Association has put together some very helpful resources, including videos and a downloadable guide to negotiating pay.

Minnesota Women Lawyers has compiled a variety of resources on compensation.

At the 2013 Women’s Bar Leadership Summit, one breakout group brainstormed about a program to address pay equity. Here’s their report:

NCWBA Summit Breakout Session Report- Gender Equity in Society – Pay Equity Pledge Program

You will find useful graphics and statistics for on Equalpaytoday.org.