Harpers Bazaar - Why salary transparency is so important for women
According to The Curve co-founder Victoria Harris, for too long women have been told to keep quiet about what we earn, for one very obvious reason — power. And it’s time we take it back.
HOW OFTEN do you shy away from the topic of money? In the fear of being rude, inappropriate or tacky? I’d say the majority of us would put our hands up and say “all of the time”. For generations we have been conditioned to think that it’s the man’s responsibility to ‘provide’ and to take care of the household finances. That it’s not our place to talk (or even think) about money. The problem is that women are now contributing much more equally to the household income – yet in many areas those outdated stigmas and lack of financial transparency still remain.
Currently in Australia, women are paid a shocking 13.9% less than men. Not because we are less clever, or because we’re worse at our jobs — simply because we are women. If we look at that in terms of a year, we are working over seven weeks for free, every year.
Or if we look at that in another way, over a ten year period, that’s nearly a year and a half salary less than an equivalent male, in exactly the same job. For absolutely no reason. We have been told to keep quiet about what we earn, for one very obvious reason — power. And it’s about time we take that back.
As women, we are much more likely to end up in financial hardship when we reach retirement. This is because despite our percentage contribution to our retirement being the same in most instances, due to the gender pay gap, our dollar amount is much less.
Most of us will also take time out of the workforce to have children and then to top it all off, we also live longer than men when we reach retirement. So “a salary difference of 13.9%” might not sound like a lot, but when compounded over many years, it can end up being nearly a 40-50% difference in your pool of money at retirement. This is why having salary transparency, plus also having the tools and knowledge to grow your wealth – is key to breaking this generational cycle.
As much as it can feel uncomfortable talking about salaries, if we don’t have visibility over what others earn, we have no comparison. If we don’t start to speak up, we will continue to be left behind. Ignorance is not bliss.
When we asked the question “what’s holding you back from talking about your salary” on our Instagram, the response was truly overwhelming. And not in a good way. The number of women who said that they found out they were being paid significantly less than what they should have been, was really disheartening. Some even at managerial levels found out that those they manage, were being paid more than them. This shouldn’t be happening, but we can start to change the narrative by having open and real conversations.
Aside from the many stories, two main themes emerged. Firstly, everyone on decent salaries were worried that they’d sound arrogant or be expected to pay for dinner by disclosing how much they earn. And secondly, women at the other end of the earning spectrum felt embarrassed to admit their low salaries.
At The Curve we are on a mission to create a safe, non-judgemental space for women to learn and talk about money. To help you grow your wealth, and to remind you that there is no shame in wanting more. We are all at different ages, stages, experiences levels and therefore earning capabilities. Let this be a gentle reminder to champion the woman next to you, wherever she may be in her career (or with her finances). We are all individuals but collectively we need to empower and support each other, whatever journey we are on.
It’s time we take control back, knowing that with transparency, education and (sometimes) uncomfortable situations comes change. We can reach financial equality, we might just have to wade through a few awkward conversations to get there. To help kickstart the conversation we have created an anonymous salary spreadsheet for anyone who feels comfortable completing it. Hopefully one day soon, this spreadsheet won’t have to be anonymous, and these conversations will be completely normalised. One day soon there will not be a gender pay gap, and one day soon, we will all feel equal.
You can find the anonymous salary spreadsheet here, along with lots of other helpful tools and resources to learn more about finance and investing.