Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t work for money. My current and previous co-workers know that I will go above and beyond my work hours to pitch in and make sure projects are completed. Money was a term I labeled to be an unnecessary. I was living my idealistic and socialist life until recently.
It’s quite difficult to live in a consumer driven and high tech society today. All my life I have been conflicted with this notion of the haves and have nots and its relation to money/wealth. While my definitions of success or wealth are not directly tied to money, looking back the dollar bills are what have actually played a part in my stability and opportunity to explore. Without an income I wouldn’t have shelter and food for my wellbeing & health. Without money for transportation I would not have access to go where I needed to help others; I use my own money to volunteer whether by donation, transportation expense or even just time. You get my drift …
Quite recently I’ve come to challenge my perception and run head on to tackle my understanding of the importance of money. Earlier this year I was approached on social media by person I knew who worked for a booming high tech company. They had let me know that their company was hiring a marketing manager and asked if I was interested. I had let them know that I was happy at my company and I was still completing my marketing management certificate but would consider it. Then I asked them what the salary rate was and sent them the range that I felt comfortable with. I never heard a response. Three months later, a position at the company appeared and reminded me that I hadn’t heard back from my contact. I went back to our message thread and asked what the challenges were. She had called me and let me know that she was put off that I had started asking about the salary. And in my mind, I thought it was a rational logical step to ask for salary information when trying to consider a new opportunity. But she clearly sounded disgusted, hence the lack of any response.
This experience was so un-nerving to me. I brought it to my private Facebook group of amazing women who call themselves ‘the Girl Gang’. The Girl Gang is composed of a wide spectrum of women who are employed/freelance within various industries in Vancouver. The common thread we share is the passion to drive women forward towards gender equality. I brought my concerns to the group and asked for their opinion as I didn’t realize there was a faux pas with discussing salary rates in job applications. I received various supportive comments that echoed my sentiments that asking about salaries and income is a logical step in the employment process as it is an exchange of services and time for money. They also voiced that men and most assertive women have been doing this for ages and that its the path towards successful employment occupation (as you typically work for the value your company places on to you through your salary).
There was a comment that I believe mirrored the sentiments of my contact. The comment expressed that the tech industry is quite competitive so candidates need to set themselves apart from others to distinguish their qualities and that I should be asking what I can contribute to the team instead of what I will be making. I understood where they were coming from as that is exactly what I consider when going through the notions of the job hunting process. In the end I understand that they are looking out for their company. And I, as a woman who is trying to nurture growth in all aspects of my person, am looking to see the benefits for all parties involved.
Why are questions of salary and income judged upon like this? It feels like the hiring process still uses some personal bias to judge the fit/credibility of an applicant with the first few questions. Are women or people in general not able to ask information without it infringing on their application? People have families, mortgages and financial needs to fulfill that determine their the quality of their life satisfaction – if they aren’t able to ask these questions in the beginning and find out later that it’s not up to par then wouldn’t it be wasteful to everyone’s time? How is it that the concept of “money” is looked at so negatively as a bad motivation when occupations like “account sales managers” exist to push companies forward through commission based sales?
There is an understanding that when you apply for a job, most especially in a competitive industry, you have to do your research and salary research is one of them. I definitely understand that however how does this one question deem the candidate unattractive? Especially in the experience I had. Let’s be honest here, money drives our consumer driven society forward. Yes, it is a conduit and our focus should not be ‘money’ but if we were to take it at face value instead of beating around the bush everyone would be better off.