Negotiating for Parity — It’s Illegal for Employers to Ask Your Salary History in These 20 states

You’ve probably heard the disheartening statistics about the so-called gender wage gap. In the United States, women overall earn about 18 percent less than men, and women of color, except Asian women, earn between 52 and 62 percent of what white men earn. There is good news, too, though: the pay gap has decreased over time, and many states and companies are actively addressing the discrepancies. Learn what has changed and how this benefits you as a job seeker.

Bans on Requesting Salary History

One of the most significant developments in the past few years is found in legislation. In 2018, more than 40 states proposed some sort of salary history restrictions, and at least 20 states and localities, including Puerto Rico, succeeded in enacting bans prohibiting at least some employers from requiring or, in some cases, using job candidates’ previous salary information. This number is likely to increase as legislation is proposed again in upcoming sessions. The purpose behind such bans is to prevent employers from relying on past, possibly discriminatory pay in determining future compensation, thus helping to reduce inherited pay inequality.

How to Use This to Your Advantage:

Learn whether you live in one of the places that adopted legislation banning the salary history requirement; if you do, then refuse to disclose if requested. No matter where you live, do not voluntarily offer potential employers your previous salary information.

Pay Transparency

Laws in some places go beyond banning salary history. In California, the Fair Pay Act requires employers provide a position’s pay scale to applicants who ask, as long as they’ve had at least one interview for the job. Even in the absence of legislation, some companies proactively approach the issue. Starbucks, for example, will provide the salary range for any given position if asked. This transparency in compensation positions women better in salary negotiations.

How to Use This to Your Advantage:

Request the salary or wage range for the position you’re seeking. Whenever possible assertively negotiate your starting salary and request enhanced benefits packages. Know your worth, and learn to advocate your value as an employee.

Proactive Measures by Some Companies: Promotion Practices

Other companies go even further in taking steps toward achieving gender equity. For example, GoDaddy and Intel both instituted programs that strive to promote more women into higher ranking and higher pay positions.

How to Use This to Your Advantage:

During your interview, ask about the company’s promotion policies. Also inquire about possible mentorship and networking opportunities, which can help new hires on the track to managerial roles. Female job seekers benefit from recent changes to laws and company policies surround pay equity. Remember, your skills provide value, and you’re deserving of being paid what you’re worth.

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  1. This is great advice, especially for those in job search mode and wondering about this subject. Many women I’ve spoken with have access specifically for help in the salary negotiations since they see their male counterparts earning more from the very beginning.

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