Take a step up, but you'll have to ask.

When Zoe Ball publicly asked the BBC for a pay cut, I couldn't help wonder whether this was symptomatic of women underestimating their value in business.

We know that the gender pay gap is real and that women ask for pay rises less often than their male counterparts. Even when they do, they are less likely to actually receive it.

But women increase the productivity and profitability of a company, and there is no reason why they shouldn't have the careers they desire and the rewards they deserve.

If you are feeling unbalanced or unfulfilled at work, consider negotiating with your current employer for some of the following changes or benefits before calling it quits or seeking work elsewhere.

Climbing the ladder

At the close of 2020, many professionals may find themselves not receiving the same level of support or opportunities for progression from their employers as they had at the start of the year.

This might be due to the coronavirus and subsequent economic recession, or simply because you haven't asked for it. If you're wanting to advance your career, don't be shy about speaking to your manager about ways they could help you reach this goal.

This could translate into funding for an online course or other accreditation programmes to boost your credentials, entrance into an official mentorship programme, an introduction to someone in a different department within the company who could potentially turn into an unofficial mentor, an opportunity to work on a cross-functional project, or the chance to take on greater responsibility.

This not only shows how committed you are to your job but also demonstrates initiative. 

But never enter any negotiations unprepared. If you're going to approach your manager about opportunities to advance your career, do your research ahead of time and have creative suggestions ready; don't walk in and simply expect your boss to present you with an offer. 

Asking for a pay rise

There is no denying that the pandemic has thrown a spanner into employees' career progression, including bigger paychecks, irrespective of gender.

If your organisation is still struggling to operate at full capacity or meet its revenue goals, it would be inappropriate – and come off as tone-deaf – if you were to request more money at this time.

However, if your company has been successful throughout these past several months and you've continued to take on more responsibilities whilst meeting or exceeding your goals, then you should make the case for a pay rise.

When you have the opportunity to speak with your manager, be ready to discuss how you've accomplished your goals and how your role has evolved since the last time your compensation was reviewed. Also, come prepared with third-party data on the current market rate for the role you're performing from sites such as PayScale and Glassdoor

Still feeling awkward about asking for the money you deserve? Let these famous ladies inspire you.

A flexible flex 

Whilst financial reward is important, expecting to have a sustainable work-life-balance should never be considered too much to ask for – that's true now more than ever. 

When schools were first ordered to close on 20 March 'until further notice' to slow the spread of COVID-19, many working parents negotiated flexible work arrangements with their employers.

However, the new school year has brought with it another set of challenges for working parents everywhere. Between staggered drop-off and collection times to alternating weeks of remote learning and in-person teaching ‒ not to mention the sudden two-week isolation periods when a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 – it's nearly impossible to manage a full and productive working week.

And sadly, it is women who have been hit the hardest economically by the pandemic, as they still, to this day, take on the majority of the caring responsibilities, which makes them 'unreliable' to deliver the work required. But it doesn't have to be this way.

Consider renegotiating your work schedule to suit your needs. This may include working different hours based on your kids' school schedules or personal commitments, reducing your hours altogether, or downshifting to a part-time role for the foreseeable future.

Of course, if you decide it's best to work less in order to accommodate your household responsibilities, you'll also need to be prepared to negotiate a reduced salary for that time period.

However, make sure you are not taking an unreasonable pay cut or that you are being treated like a second-class employee for 'only' working part time. 

Don't ask, don't get

Whilst a fully stocked break room and free or subsidised travel were beneficial pre-pandemic, employees' priorities have shifted. Since women seem to be struggling the most to juggle childcare and working from home, it's worth proposing an alternative benefit from your employer such as a voucher – or an increase in your current voucher allowance – for childcare.

It's a win-win for all: You'll be a more productive employee, whilst your kids are being well-cared for. When presenting your argument, you can cite companies such as the news publication The New York Times, which started offering its working parents up to $600 a week to cover childcare.

If you're not a mum, or if you already have your childcare sorted out, there are other benefits to request in lieu of your previous – and now considerably less relevant – benefits.

For example, you might ask for a stipend to fit out your home office with an ergonomic chair or desk, an additional computer screen or the means to improve your Wi-Fi signal to ensure a speedier internet connection. Some organisations may be open to simply supplying you with better equipment to help you feel supported and more productive at home.

If your company usually has a big holiday party, consider proposing that some of those funds go towards investing in an upgrade to your work office – it's certainly worth the ask! 

As we approach a new calendar year, take this opportunity to consider what you really want to get out of your role – and what you could be asking of your employer to help you achieve those goals.

If it's time to walk away, start out your job search strong by getting a free CV review.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by talented ladies club.

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