Early on in my career, I undervalued myself and took a lower salary than I was worth. In a couple of cases, I later discovered that I could have earned a lot more. If I had had a little more confidence and faith in myself, I would have negotiated harder. It’s something I eventually learned to do.
In Massachusetts, they’re bringing in a new law that will help people who are moving up in their career, and lawmakers in that state think it will catch on. It will be illegal for a prospective employer to ask you how much you made in your last position. This keeps them from low-balling an offer by using the old salary as a baseline. This is especially important to women, who still earn 79 cents for every dollar paid to men for doing the same work. Now the employer will have to state up front how much you are worth to their company.
And there’s more. Companies will no longer be allowed to stop employees from telling each other how much they make. Many firms make that information part of a confidentiality clause. The idea behind sharing the info is to allow employees to discover pay disparities. That sure could have helped me at MIX 999. In fact, when I accidentally discovered that I was making exactly half the salary of the guy I replaced, they should have been quaking in their boots that I’d make a big stink about it. But I didn’t. I still didn’t know my value.
There are jobs that you can’t compare to others, and people who are uniquely talented and should be compensated as such. But when you can look around your industry and see people in jobs just like yours making a lot more money than you, there’s a problem.
It’s believed that this new law will benefit everybody, not just women. And it has widespread support from Chambers of Commerce and company owners who want to do the right thing. It doesn’t come into effect until June 2018 and it’s thought that by then, the template will be copied in other states. If there’s enough momentum, it will become a federal guideline. And before you know it, if we’re fortunate, it will seep across the border where we have the same problems with pay inequity as they do.