1. Know How Much You Should Be Making
Talk to women and men about salary ranges in your industry (Glassdoor.com is a great resource). While it’s not illegal, it is common for companies to discourage people from discussing salaries, so colleagues/potential employers can be cagey if asked outright. Inquire with someone who held the position previously or works in a similar job at another company.
2. Ask For It
Studies have found that men negotiate more for their salaries — and receive more, starting from their very first job. If you haven’t negotiated a salary, start learning. Does the idea of haggling with an HR rep or future boss give you hives? Practice with your roommates, your partner, your parents, in front of a mirror. The more you learn how to say, "I want $X," the more natural it’ll feel in conversations where it really matters.
3. Know Your Rights, But Tread Carefully
If you know a male (or white) coworker is making far more than you despite having the same job title or description, your employer may be practicing discrimination, which is illegal. Look to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to understand your rights and potential next steps. "Sometimes pay disparities are inadvertent, and we have heard from a number of women who have successfully raised the issue with their employer," says Graves. Still, Graves warns that retaliation is a real thing that can occur if pay discrimination is brought up — and, unfortunately, the current penalties for employers who practice wage discrimination are light. That's why it's essential to support legislation that penalizes discrimination.
4. Find A Results-Oriented Workplace
More and more companies are open to flexible work arrangements in the pursuit of excellent work. This benefits work-life balance for all workers, not just women.
5. Look At The Big Picture — Then Vote On It
The constellation of issues around equal pay, including low-cost early childhood education, stronger family medical leave acts, and raising the minimum wage, are likely to be big issues going into the midterm and 2016 elections. Research your local candidates on these issues — and support them on election days.
6. Speak Out
Start (and continue) conversations with your friends about salaries. “Making the issue an essential one makes a difference to employers; they know the information is out there and that workers want change," says Graves. And, talk to us: Share your own wage disparity stories in the comments below.