What’s your salary? And there begins the long drawn battle of gender pay gap

A good friend who is a CA fresher interviewed with one of the leading companies a few years ago. Someone with excellent academic credentials, smart, savvy there was no doubt that she would slay it. Her compensation was never discussed as the company informed her that this will be known once she gets the offer letter. She got the offer letter and was not very pleased with the number. It wasn’t too bad but neither enticing.

A male friend of hers was also interviewing in the same organisation for a role in Finance. He too got an offer. Now we are always told that we should maintain confidentiality of our salary but usually people do tend to discuss with a few trusted ones. On discussing with this male friend, she realised there was a gap in the package offered to her and him. That really puzzled her for several reasons such as –

  1. They both have the exact same qualifications and zero work experience. In fact she had a better academic track record than him.
  2. It was the same role – in fact the role offered to her was a niche one compared to what he got. There was little doubt that the role could be a reason for this disparity.
  3. There was no question of bargaining power here as both were sent an offer letter without any negotiations. This was the number printed on that latter.

My friend was quite disillusioned as you can imagine but she did not want to challenge HR and put her friend’s job in jeopardy- the friend who had honestly shared his package with her. She called up the HR and informed them that other candidates are being offered a bigger amount for the same role, she cannot take names but she does have this information. The HR person vehemently denied this stating that they are an equal opportunities employer and do not discriminate. The call ended. The next day my friend got a call and a revised offer letter which was matching the salary of the male friend.

Seems surprising. A few years ago I would never have realised this is the gender pay gap – the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.

Women who tend to start at the same salary as their male counterparts face this as well. In their annual hike, bonus, job changes, promotions- its often found that they are at the lower end of the spectrum.

Is it the lack of confidence in self which stops them from having a tough conversation when the annual hike is doled out or they miss a year in the promotion cycle and their male colleague moves forward? Are we women not competent to bargain enough when we switch a job? Or is it the maternity break she took which landed her with a raw deal?

I don’t think its easy to answer this. But the good thing is that several organisations are realising that this skewed pay ratio is what is adversely impacting their gender diversity goals. I personally know a few moms who had taken a career break to raise their kids and when they wanted to restart their career, the pay and position offered to them was like a tight slap across their face. They rejected it. Are they the losers or the organisation who missed out on having some really smart women on their team?

Companies which employ 250 or more people in UK have been mandated to disclose the average salary paid to both genders. This move is meant to bring about transparency and  make organisations accountable.  But there is an underlying issue here. The average salary disclosed is not at rank level and neither does it mention the number of male and female employees at each rank. In most cases, there will be greater number of women employed at lower ranks and their pay is bound to be lesser so when you talk about averages, there is going to be a significant gap. This is not necessarily a pay gap but there are bigger questions to be addressed in that case. Why are there no women at mid and senior level positions for instance?

This data serves little purpose at the moment. More information will be needed to make the data useful and achieve the goal of bridging this gap.

gender inequality unfairness

One of the first questions any person who is looking for a job change is asked is – “What is your current salary?” But have we ever thought if this question is really relevant. As a hiring manager, one is looking to fill in a vacant position or create a new one. They certainly have a band in mind about what they are willing to pay for that role- based on the skill set needed, the complexity and everything that the role entails. Why cant they simply offer a package to the candidate without taking into account what his/her prior salary is? Why is it even relevant?

Imagine a male and female candidate have applied for this role- both are equally qualified and have similar experience in their prior organisations. Most often, the male would be drawing a higher package than the woman and the interviewer would wonder- “I do have a band of 50% but should I offer so much to the woman candidate if I hire her? She is already at 30% which is much lesser than the man. If I give her a 35%, she would be happy and I can achieve my target of “cost savings” as well.” In this scenario I am presuming he decides to hire the woman and one of reasons is the lower salary he can pay her and still get away with it. How would we ever bridge the pay gap if this continues? Imagine the hiring manager is completely oblivious of what the prospective candidate is currently drawing. There shouldn’t be any reason why he will offer a different salary to a male and female candidate.

I am aware this is not as easy as it appears and there could be several other factors influencing his/her decision. But is is certainly a step in the right direction. In certain jurisdictions, it is illegal to ask questions on salary to any person and if someone is asked this question in a job interview, they can refuse to answer. But doing this in our country, would be at the person’s own peril. For all you know, he/she may never hear back from the hiring company.

Achieving gender pay parity is going to be a long drawn battle and its known that things won’t change overnight. But its important we start thinking about this and make an earnest attempt to move forward in this direction. Don’t we want to have a world where our sons and daughters are paid equally and our daughters do not have to go through those years of self doubt? They can stand tall and proud and demand what they rightfully deserve.

This post is published for #OpenNTalk Blogger’s League hosted by @GleefulBlogger and @WigglingPen in association with Summerbarn, Vedantika Herbals, Nyassa, Explore Kids World. 


I would like to introduce Varsha  who is a passionate blogger, freelance content writer and an editor. Mother to two adorable kids, she considers herself capable of donning various hats with ease.

I would also like to thank Swarupa for introducing me. She is a fashion and lifestyle blogger.She shares tips and tricks which help one stay updated with the latest in fashion.

And here is our wonderful team of #BloggerBabes who are rocking it in the #OpenNTalk League


(Image courtesy https://realbusiness.co.uk)

52 thoughts on “What’s your salary? And there begins the long drawn battle of gender pay gap

  1. That’s a great post dear. There are some other issues that I found and feel gender discrimination while recruitment. They really need to open up and revise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gender discrimination exists and has been here for eons now. It is really sad to note that nothing much has changed. I do know of my sis in law who waited patiently at the boss’s cabin till he gave her a much deserved raise. I just wonder when will the laws change and when will people come out of their discriminating thoughts and grow up to make the world a better place to live. #NISSATalks Sudha

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s an unfortunate truth. And companies maintain this pay gap in the guise of “confidentiality”. So many of us wouldn’t even realise that women are at a disadvantage. Speaking up is the first step, and i’m happy to read your article touching upon such an important aspect of working women’s lives.

    Nupur #NISSAtalks #OpenNtalk

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy to hear that your CA fresher friend raised her voice and then got the same pay as her male friend. It is sad though that she had to voice her concern. Surely at a fresher level, this should not have happened.

    I have hired women in my last organization, and I can proudly say that the same rule was applied to them as the male candidate when it came to paying- last salary plus negotiated hike. But I must say that I always had to ask this question and reject the candidate based on the answer – ‘Are you willing to wait back post 7 pm and not beyond 9 pm in case there is extra workload?’. Now, most would say yes in the interview and then make some excuse at work to avoid staying back. Work would suffer. The male colleagues who would stay back would complain of discrimination. Did their reluctance to stay back have to do with lack of support back home? I think so. But these factors are bound to play on people’s mind when they recruit women. A lot of things need to fall in place – safety for women while travelling, sharing of household chores, acceptance that maternal leave is not an excuse for lesser pay – before we shall see equal pay becoming a reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly these questions don’t have easy answers. Many women lack the support system and men still think child rearing is a woman’s job. It will take a lot of time and mindset changes but I strongly feel when it comes specific to gender pay gap we have to speak up else this wlll never be abolished


  5. It happens, still it happens. Specially you cant imagine how worst the situation is in West Bengal. In Kolkata, maximum organizations try to hire a male employee and I really dont know the reason. Gender discrimination still exists. #BloggerBabes #OpeNTalk

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a real serious issue 😦 I never knew something like this ever existed. This makes me think about my sister who is graduated and in search of a job currently. We talk about development and women empowerment but gender discrimination still exists. I love the way you have highlighted this topic with this post.
    #OpenNTalk #InvincibleGang

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Super post Akshata. Makes me so angry but it is true. And if previous salary is considered, the problem gets compounded at every stage for women because they start with a handicap. Insane!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a sad situation and good you wrote about it. Not sure if it happens everywhere in all sectors but even if its happening in some sectors, it’s not right. Hopefully, we see a change in the coming years or at least by the time our girls grow up.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Akshata, this has somewhat a good ending. I was expecting that the male friend would get the pink slip after the revelation, but your friend got a salary that matched him the next day.

    Unfortunately, you’re right about the gender pay gap being practiced in the corporate. It’s because of the mentality that men are responsible for managing the finance to run the family. Once, I had a discussion with an HR of a reputed company on the same topic, and the person’s argument was that the male fresher needed a better salary to get a good bride. I argued that the fresher females were in greater need for a better salary because they had to pay a huge amount in dowry to get a good groom. Though I personally not in favour of dowry, but it helped me in establishing my point, and the person had to eventually agree with my points that there should not be any discrimination in salary on the sole basis of gender.

    A thought provoking post indeed! It’ll take time to change this mentality, for sure, but I’m positive that change will definitely happen someday.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Burning question. But most of the time, the fairer sex either has no energy or time left to douse it, fight it. Concrete changes in terms of laws of employment, equality in terms of pay, level playing field etc are the need of the hour. Thankfully some voice is heard though its faint at this moment…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am glad your friend spoke up, just as I am glad you wrote about it, Akshata.
    Keeping mum and only discussing these issues between ourselves will get us nowhere.
    Hope things change soon.
    #JAMSS2018 #OpenNTalk

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Does this really happen? Something tells me that this isn’t really the case and that the hype is generated by those who are either not aware of contemporary stats or have some feminist agenda to stick to. I have headed Corporate Communications for years and have been friendly with a lot of professionals of the opposite sex and never once did this topic become a serious issue. Yes, there are smaller organisations where the ‘sign here’ and ‘take less’ system exists but they do this for both males and females and are simply corrupt.

    Arvind Passey

    #NISSATalks #OpenNTalk

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I cannot reveal the name of the organisation but I can tell you it’s one of the most reputed investment banks. I am a chartered accountant with 10 years of experience in investment banking and I head Diversity and inclusion in finance. I can tell you this unabashedly gender pay gap is not a myth it’s a reality and this is nothing to do with smaller organisations. It’s very much in vogue in MNC’s. The reality is no one wants to talk about it. How else would you explain what happened to my friend? I would be really keen to know why there was a disparity of it isn’t due to gender. I am quite surprised to see your response to be frank,


  13. Gender pay gap is a reality in every field. Glad that professionals like your friend are standing up to them and fighting for their rights. What kind of skewed logic makes employers think that they can discriminate on gender is something I’ve never understood. Good post.
    #OpenNTalk #BloggerBabes

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s a very relevant topic, Akshata and something that womenfolk suffer all over the world. We all know about the elephant in the room, but we still try to ignore it. Glad that your friend stood up for herself and her female brethren.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. There is a disparity at many levels not only pay but as mentioned increments, promotions. If there are any gaps in a woman’s career the justifications demanded are much more and their compensation gets affected a lot. I don’t know how long this bias would last, its there in most of the organisations in some form. #CrossBorderSisters #OpenNTalk

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it does exist and surprisingly in developed countries as well. It wouldn’t really be possible for anyone up claim that they never faced this as salary is always kept under the wraps


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