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We all want to be paid what we are worth. An amount that is fair and accurately reflects our qualifications, skills, knowledge, experience and hard work. But recent research collected by pay software company Syndio found that almost seven in 10 (69%) of women feel anxiety or worry about negotiating pay. Plus, one in five (20%) fear that asking for a salary boost will damage their career.

The reasons for this vary. Everything from a fear of rejection and lack of confidence, to not understanding their worth and a reluctance to come across as pushy. These statistics may help to explain the current gender pay gap and have implications when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

Experience is important

Essentially employers must stop basing pay decisions on an individual’s confidence and instead look at their skills, experience and qualifications. Organisations should also strive for a transparent culture where everyone feels comfortable talking about pay and other benefits. To help this, pay bands should be made public. In addition, there must be discussions about equality of pay with equal career paths and equal rights for childcare between men and women.

However, it’s important that we stop thinking that women are responsible for not getting ahead in the workplace and that it’s all about confidence. Instead look at what employers can do to help. Line managers must be able to listen, understand and take an interest in their female employee’s career progression, their skills development and be on hand to encourage and support them on their career journey. Really, it’s more about valuing women, plus empowering and engaging them, rather than just boosting their levels of confidence.

Marginalised and diminished

Ask any women in their fifties about how they feel in the workplace, and they might say that they feel the feel the pressure to remain young and attractive to stay employed. They may also mention that their opinions are overlooked, their workload is given away and they experience younger workers being promoted around them.

In summary they feel marginalised, diminished and invisible. They are terrified of losing their jobs, knowing full well the challenges they would face getting a new job at their age. Others are angry that after decades of hard work and putting in great performances, after juggling their career and family, and enduring unfair workplace practices, they’re being pushed aside and, in some cases, pushed out.

Championing women

The media and the Government have made much of the need to champion and support older women, whether that’s related to menopause or encouraging them back to the workplace, so as an employer you have a role to play. The following will help you invest in your female employees so you can provide a more inclusive workforce:

  • Look for ways to achieve a cultural shift in attitudes including addressing unconscious bias
  • Train managers so they are more understanding and supportive around diversity and inclusion
  • Update employment policies and procedures including absence management and parental leave
  • Offer flexible working options so they can balance caring responsibilities
  • Implement workplace wellbeing programmes
  • Provide access to learning and promotional opportunities including coaching and mentoring
  • Deliver pay transparency and aim to reduce the gender pay gap