Asking for a pay rise when you’re a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) woman often doesn’t come naturally – whether it’s due to the cultural norms from our upbringings encouraging us to be grateful for the opportunities we get, or simply due to the fear of rejection.
Unfortunately, research has shown that women from CALD backgrounds are most likely to not ask for a promotion and higher pay as they believe that their hard work will eventually bring those things.
This is one of the factors that sees CALD women take longer to climb the leadership ladder, impacting their salary progression and therefore increasing the pay gap between themselves and their Anglo Saxon counterparts. This also has a negative impact on their retirement funds.
It’s a bleak picture, but there are things you can do to combat this such as speaking up and asking for that pay rise you deserve. Here are five key steps to empower yourself in the process.
Realise your worth
According to recent statistics from the University of Sydney, of the 230 culturally diverse women they surveyed, 88% planned to advance to a very senior role, yet only 10% strongly agreed their leadership traits were recognised, or that their opinions were valued or respected.
As a culturally diverse woman, being part of a double minority means there are more obstacles to navigate in obtaining better-paid, higher positions and rising to the top of your profession.
Therefore it’s really important to know your worth. Arm yourself with data and find out what others in a similar role to yours are getting paid. Ask around and research online. Use your qualifications and experience to benchmark what you should be earning.
It’s vital to be savvy on the market rate, so you can understand how much more you should be earning for your contributions.
Showcase what you’ve achieved in the past
Next, start to put together a strong case for what you’ve achieved for the organisation. Highlight where you have been proactive and exceeded expectations.
The key here is to show yourself as indispensable in adding value to the company – whether this is exceeding sales results, securing major new business clients or leading a team on an award-winning campaign.
Remember to be upfront about your achievements – your manager isn’t going to remember everything you’ve done.
To be able to negotiate with your boss on the pay rise you deserve, you have to push past feeling uncomfortable. It may feel as if you are chest thumping about how great you are, but you need to speak up and back yourself!
Embrace your racial and gender-based diversity
Being ‘different’ in the workplace has often been shrouded in silence, perhaps even shame.
Unconscious gender bias means that as women, many of us are conditioned towards people-pleasing behaviours and a fear of being seen as ‘defiant’, passed onto us from externally-created social norms. These are often exacerbated when coming from a diverse racial background, as feelings of inadequacy in being ‘different’ can often lead us to submission.
However, it’s important that you don’t simply blend in. Being of Zambian heritage and working in Australia, I normally stick out in every corporate environment I’ve been in. In the past, I’ve tried really hard not to be the odd one out.
Trying to be invisible at all costs dulled the natural light I shone. When I started to embrace my multiple identities as an African Australian, I was able to call out that I am different – and not to be apologetic about it.
By whole-heartedly embracing what makes you ‘Other’, you can start to own who you are and realise your place in the corporate world. Being different doesn’t mean being ‘bad’.
Find a sponsor who can vouch for your work
Having a senior colleague or two to vouch for your work is key in negotiating a higher salary and navigating unconscious gender and racial biases in your organisation.
The quality of your relationships you create in the workplace will have a huge impact on the progression of your career.
So it’s important to ally with colleagues early on. Confide in them about your goal and ask them for their help. Having a genuine relationship will encourage them to be open to helping you down the track.
Enlist someone you trust and practise at home with them until you feel really comfortable.
Being assertive in your approach is key here. Remember this is a business negotiation, so stick to outlining the business case for why you deserve a raise. Rehearse until you’ve got what you want to say down to a tee.
Be direct and firm, take your notes to the meeting so you remember to touch on all your points.
It may take some time to nail the tone and exact language, but trust me – you’ll be glad you spent all the time to get this right in the end!
In conclusion, asking for a pay rise can be unnerving, especially due to cultural conditioning and our deeply ingrained behaviours. However, by using these tips and stepping into and fully embracing your Otherness, you can start to gain the confidence to step up for yourself and ask for that pay rise you deserve.
About Mayase Jere
Mayase is a Senior Consultant for ThoughtWorks, a global technology consultancy. She specialises in Agile software delivery, Agile team development/coaching and product thinking. She leads distributed teams across Australia, UK, China, and India.
Her passion is in making education accessible to every child and increasing the participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Through her platform “The Art of Otherness” she amplifies conversations on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.