Woman with cash hand in air

This is Part 2 in our series on Closing the Discrimination and Gender Pay Gap for Women in the Wine Industry. Find Part 1 here.

Emotions can quickly overtake situations before either party has an opportunity to assess a problem rationally. Before contemplating leaving an otherwise good employer, consider your actions and theirs. Business owners are often unaware of the true costs of employee retention. It has been reported in a study by the Society for Human Resource Management that the cost of replacing an employee may often be six to nine months’ salary in hiring and training fees, a hefty expense if that position turns over every 12-24 months. Do they know what it may cost to replace you? More than one employer has reconsidered releasing an employee upon learning the true costs of turnover and retention.

Strategies and Skills

In negotiating pay or raises, women are often told the amount offered is based upon their salary at a previous position (which is often considerably less than what a male counterpart made in the same position) instead of being based upon merit and benchmark criteria of the new job’s duties and requirements. Ask exactly how compensation amounts were calculated before accepting the offered pay amount. Salary negotiation is an art and a science.

Women are routinely denied raises (up to 25% more often than men) and must develop stronger arguments and strategies when negotiating for raises. In our survey, women regularly cited having to jump through hoops at a much greater rate than their male counterparts to maintain pace with their career advancement.  Women must prepare for salary and raise negotiation meetings with the strategy of 4-star generals mapping out the plan for D-Day:

  • Be prepared with your best “comps.” Do you know how your compensation compares to counterparts’ at other companies? How much have you added to the company’s bottom line? Do you know your own return on investment? How much more will you add to the company’s revenues with your continued employment?
  • Ask about the company’s core values. If they state they value gender equality, ask them to prove it in their compensation package offer to you.
  • If the company is not in a position to offer the desired monetary compensation, get creative in requesting a fair compromise: Ask for educational tuition reimbursement as you pursue a degree. Perhaps you desire paid time off to pursue other interests. There are infinite ways to craft compensation packages to reflect your worth. (And if they cannot meet them, look elsewhere.)

Confidence and Communication

Garnering the compensation and position you deserve is a life-long pursuit requiring life-long skill-building. The moment a hiring manager or boss perceives a lack of confidence, a piece of that compensation package gets reduced. Learn the communication skills that convey complete confidence in your abilities to remove any doubt in your prospective employer’s mind:

  • Behavioral signals such as standing with hands on hips or leaning over a desk or table with hands spread wide on the edge of the desk convey strength and certainty. A body turned partly to one side conveys a lack of certainty. Observe your own body language (and others). Make adjustments. Practice using more powerful body language to assert your point of view.
  • In addition to crafting your strategy to win a raise or position, practice your verbal arguments in a mirror, on video and with a trusted confidante until they’re rock solid. Have your confidante play “the devil’s advocate” arguing against your points so you’ll be prepared to counter in the actual compensation negotiation.
  • Use the recordings/videos of yourself to observe what improvements can be made. There are innumerable training programs available to help you improve your speaking skills and body behavior habits. Vocal habits such as unknowingly ending most of your statements with a rising inflection or laughing inappropriately will work against you, as they comes across as weaknesses. Are your statements peppered with “Ums” or other phrases that do you disservice?
  • Cultivate a mentor/mentee business relationship to provide honest and trustworthy feedback throughout your career. Seek out a business coach to help you craft the career path of your dreams.

A Rising Tide Floats All Boats

Cited repeatedly in our survey and at our Equal Pay Day event were women’s stories of not being heard in their current jobs. Stories were told of offering suggestions in meetings that were ignored by male bosses or colleagues, as if they weren’t even in the room. Then a male counterpart would make the same suggestion and be lauded for his expertise by the males in the room.

In the Obama Administration, women found themselves significantly outnumbered and outheard, making it difficult to contribute and feel valued in their positions. Their solution was simple but highly effective: They consciously chose to verbally support one another in meetings when a female co-worker made a suggestion. When multiple women acknowledged one another’s work and strengths, the men began listening, a strategy more women should adopt since we’re half the workforce.

How WINE WOMEN is helping to close the gender pay gap

Celebrating Equal Pay Day on April 4th was but the first step (of thousands) in closing the pay gap. Guest speakers Cathy Corison and Linda Higueras both offered numerous anecdotes and suggestions for handling discrimination and pay inequity issues, while Geni Whitehouse moderated the event and shared valuable stories.

Our mission is “to champion the advancement of women’s careers in the wine industry by building strong relationships, essential business skills and leadership among members,” which will lead to a reduction in discriminatory practices and inequity over time. Our forums offer environments for women and men to grow their networks, learn new skill sets and gain training.


As follow up to our event, take the WINE WOMEN Compensation Survey! The Gender Pay Gap is projected not to close in the U.S. for at least another two to five generations. WINE WOMEN aims to help reduce the gap through its women-focused events, career training, and exposure of pay disparity practices which hinder women from asking for and receiving fair compensation in the workplace.