{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "My wife and I work at the same company and are at the same level, doing the same role, though different departments. She gets paid 15% less than me. I joined after her and didn't know her salary. We've been living with this for a while, and she's gone back asking for a pay bump but been denied, but she did not mention that she was married to a man who had a different pay rate. Should she go back again and mention that? She was hesistant to bring our personal lives into it, but I thought she should call that out specifically. I'm not sure what I should do on my side.", "post_id": "60bebd3bcf2c680021402cdd", "reply_count": 10, "vote_count": 8, "bowl_id": "55375ce690f5eebe1d2a0f88", "bowl_name": "Tech" }

My wife and I work at the same company and are at the same level, doing the same role, though different departments. She gets paid 15% less than me. I joined after her and didn't know her salary. We've been living with this for a while, and she's gone back asking for a pay bump but been denied, but she did not mention that she was married to a man who had a different pay rate. Should she go back again and mention that? She was hesistant to bring our personal lives into it, but I thought she should call that out specifically. I'm not sure what I should do on my side.

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No. It’s not helpful to say “Bob makes 15% more than me” in negotiating compensation. There is a compensation range for all roles - they can easily say well, I looked at your compensation and it falls within the 75-100% quartile, so you make more than 75% of the folks in this role and folks with higher compensation are higher performers. Compensation is often unfair and it could be due to negotiation and background. If your wife truly wants more money, she needs to go and get a competing offer and leave, get promoted, or continually mention compensation so that her manager knows she’ll leave without a market adjustment. Her manager will get that this means a lot to her and either try to get a market adjustment, or he won’t in which case she should leave.

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Yes!

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She should go back and say “ I know my male colleagues are paid 15% more, and furthermore after researching on Glassdoor and etc I have confirmed I am being paid X less then other professionals in my same region and level. How are you going to close that gender gap?” If you have any male friends at the same level in the company, she can also confirm with them they are payed more ( I’m sure they are, but as leverage) - but the most important thing I think is to present it as their problem ( the employers) because it is. Keep it professional, but keep it consistent and clear. They have chosen to take advantage of social norms that you can get away with paying women less- and they need to fix it. If they are unwilling to put a plan in place ( say a smaller raise every few months until she matches the existing salaries etc) or a written promise for larger raise at the end of the year- she might have to be willing to start looking for a new job ( to get what she’s worth). But it’s not about your relationship at all, it’s about the employer choosing to pay women less.

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Would others objectively say your wife performs at the same level as you do ? See, this is where comparisons like this are tricky. If you are objectively the same performance level for the same exact period of time then perhaps you should be paid less or she should be paid more, but it's impossible to remove all subjectivity to two workers value to an employer even if it's the same job at the same company in the same department. To imply this is the result of gender bias I think is overly simplistic... Not that you are doing that, just saying

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Every level has a pay range, with each individual salary being dependent on unique factors. Sounds like you want to blame it on sex, though it very well could be that she is seen as one of the lower performers on the team, and her salary reflects that.

Is she homegrown? How does she compare to others in her dept and you to yours?

The department might be the case. Depends on which side of the balance sheet that department is. If you’re in sales and she’s in support. Then yeah support is going to pay less, it’s more of a cost vs a rev generator. Then again we’re going off of assumption here. Might be best to mention the 15% difference from other males in the workplace.

If your company has communicated any support in rectifying the gender pay gap then yes. If not, then I think it’s probably too risky to rock the boat. I’d suggest she look elsewhere, the job market is hot in tech right now. Tell her to find a place that appreciates & compensates her for her worth. She can negotiate the higher compensation at the new company.

Other questions: you say you joined after her. How long after her? What was the period during which she arrived at her current salary? What was her starting salary? How many women with comparable experience at her level in that department and in the company as a whole? These are very difficult stats to get to begin with, let alone discreetly. But here are the most important questions: regardless of your own salary, how does your wife feel about her compensation? That is to say, if you weren't working there and she was unable to draw direct comparisons (iffy to begin with), does she feel overworked/undervalued? How much does she love this position, regardless of tenure? Has she reviewed the current salary data for people at her level (male or female)? If she really likes the job, the people, and the environment, there may be some minimally confrontational paths forward. One approach: if she hasn't already, she should review her strongest relationships with men in her department either at or immediately above her level (not necessarily her manager). She should subtly drop hints that she's undervalued and ask them for help in promoting her ideas, in meetings and elsewhere (if they are, of course, good ideas). Now, if her ideas are already moving forward much of the time and she's still not being given more benefits, then there is too much mindset resistance along the management chain or even the company and she should consider a move (i.e., her chances of changing things at the company, even just for herself, are low).

Another two cents from my friend who's been an HR executive for 20+ years: It matters which state as some states allow employees to disclose their comp to other employees without repercussions from the company. Regardless, if I were advising the employee, I would suggest that they ask their manager whether they feel that they are being fairly compensated for their current role and if the company has salary bands or ranges for specific roles. In CA, employees can ask what those are. Then let them know that they are concerned for the company because they hope that they are not being paid less than others doing the exact same role at the company because they identify as either; female, or catholic, or over 40, or Asian, etc. If there is a decent HR team at the company, usually this question is then immediately raised to them.

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