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Higgins Capital Management, Inc.

Women and Work: Why Salary, Benefits, and Work-Life Balance Count

As you progress along your career path, there's no telling how far you'll go.
But to fully reap the financial rewards of all your hard work, you'll need to
take charge of your own career. Here are a few issues you'll want to pay close
attention to.

Salary and career advancement

Having a well-paying job is a major concern for most people, but it's no secret
that there's often a gender gap when it comes to pay. According to a report from
the Bureau of Labor Statistics, within most occupational categories, women who
work full-time, year-round earn only 82% (on average) of what men who work the
same schedule earn.2

Getting paid less affects not only your current paycheck, but also your
long-term asset accumulation. For example, the less you earn, the less money you
have to contribute to your retirement plan, and potentially the lower the amount
of matching employer contributions you'll receive if your employer offers them.
In addition, because current salary is the benchmark for future pay increases
and bonuses (which are often expressed as a percentage of your salary), the
effect of a pay gap is cumulative. Unless corrected, pay disparities may widen
over the course of your career.

Unfortunately, making sure that your pay is in line with industry or company
standards isn't always easy, but you can start by checking with your employer.
Many employers have transparent compensation practices and are happy to share
salary ranges or pay scales, the criteria for pay adjustments, and the timetable
for compensation review. You may also want to check out Internet salary websites
to get an idea of a typical salary range for someone in your occupation and
geographical location.

You may also benefit from honing your negotiation skills. It's possible that you
might be missing out on pay raises, not because they're unavailable, but because
you haven't effectively communicated what you want or need. Here are a few tips:
  When meeting with your employer (or a potential employer), be prepared to
  articulate your strengths and specific achievements. What unique skills and
  qualities do you bring to the table?
  Recognize that negotiation is a two-way street. Clearly communicate not only
  your salary requirements, but also what you offer the company in return. Be
  prepared to address any concerns your employer has.
  Don't assume that the first salary or pay increase you're offered is the last.
  Be prepared to counteroffer.

In addition to pay, bonuses, and other tangible rewards, nontangible rewards
such as career opportunities and a supportive culture are important predictors
of job satisfaction and success. Here are a few questions you may want to
consider when deciding if a job or company is a good fit:
  What advancement opportunities exist?
  How many women in the company hold leadership positions? If the number is low,
  does the company have any initiatives in place to change that?
  Are career development opportunities available, such as management training,
  mentorship programs, or networking opportunities?
  Does the company have family-friendly policies and benefits? Are employees
  encouraged to make use of them?

Employee benefits

Employer-provided benefits are the backbone of your compensation package because
they can help provide a financial safety net for you and your family. Know what
benefits you have, and make sure you're taking full advantage of them.

Retirement plans

Employer-sponsored retirement plans such as traditional 401(k) and 403(b) plans
are a great option for saving for retirement. You can make pretax contributions
(which generally reduce your taxable income) directly from your pay, and any
earnings on your contributions grow tax deferred until withdrawn. Your employer
may also match a portion of what you contribute.

Although the number of employers offering pension plans has been dwindling, in
some industries pension plans are still commonplace. If your employer offers
one, make sure you understand the rules for participating and becoming vested in
your pension benefits.

Health, life, and disability insurance

Employer-sponsored group health insurance is a very valuable benefit, especially
if your employer pays a substantial portion of the premium cost. Employers may
also offer low-cost group life and disability insurance that can supplement
coverage you already have.

Flexible spending accounts

Your employer may offer you the chance to contribute pretax dollars to a health
and/or a dependent care flexible spending account. Your contributions aren't
subject to federal income taxes or Social Security taxes (nor generally to state
and local income taxes). You can use these tax-free dollars to pay for
health-care costs not covered by insurance or for dependent care costs such as
child care.

Sick leave, disability, and vacation policies

Your employer's sick leave and disability policies can make a big difference in
your ability to take care of yourself and your family members, without
jeopardizing your job. Having generous amounts of paid time off (e.g., vacation
or personal days) will help reduce stress and allow you to take care of personal
business, and will ultimately benefit your employer through increased commitment
and productivity.

Other benefits

If you work for a mid- to large-size company, it's likely that you'll have
access to other employee benefits. One valuable benefit is an educational
assistance program that will cover some or all of the cost of courses and
job-related training that you may need to advance. Another is an employee
assistance program that can help you deal with challenging personal situations
such as divorce or elder care.

Work-life balance

Balancing the demands of career and family is one of the major issues people
face during their working years.

Fortunately, the traditional workplace is changing. Employers are increasingly
recognizing that providing work-life balance programs are key to having a
diverse, gender-neutral workforce. All workers, women and men, single or
married, with or without children, can benefit from flexible scheduling that can
help them meet personal needs and responsibilities. Here are some tips that can
help you make a flexible arrangement work:
  Make sure expectations are clear both at home and at work. If you're working
  from home, will you be expected to work during certain hours? Will you need to
  be available for meetings? Does your family understand your work routine? If
  you have children and you and your spouse or partner both work from home, you
  may need to periodically renegotiate household and child-related
  Be proactive in communications with your boss and colleagues. Consider how
  they might be affected by your arrangement, but don't hesitate to ask for what
  you need to be successful.
  Stay flexible. Your needs and your employer's needs may change over time, and
  the terms of your arrangement may need to be adjusted.

While workplace flexibility is gaining momentum (and has become a necessity
during the pandemic), some employers have not yet embraced the concept, and some
jobs or industries aren't suited to it. But you can still strive to better
integrate your home and work lives. As a starting point, enlist support from
others. At home, ask your family members for help with household
responsibilities — you really can't do it all yourself — or if you can afford
it, consider hiring someone to help out. At work, look for opportunities to
network with women who have faced similar challenges, and help support them by
sharing your experiences and tips. And don't expect perfection. Balancing career
and family is always a work in progress.

As more and more women earn college degrees, change in the workplace may be
inevitable. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women now
earn 57% of bachelor's degrees, 60% of master's degrees, and 53% of doctoral

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 72% of women with
children under age 18 are in the labor force.3


1 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest
of Education Statistics, 2019

2,3 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019 data, accessed
February 2021

Posted by BAS Social Media.

The information contained in this communication is provided for information purposes and should not be construed as a solicitation or offer to buy or sell any securities or related financial instruments in any jurisdiction. Past performance does not guarantee future results.  No offers may be made or accepted from any resident unless Higgins Capital Management, Inc. is registered to transact business in your state of residence.