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PepTalkHer app helps women negotiate pay rises

12 March 2020

Meggie Palmer Standing1

Meggie Palmer (above) spent 15 years as a journalist and foreign correspondent, traveling from Syria to Italy telling stories for networks including BBC World, CNBC and SBS Dateline.

She now lives in New York and is the founder and CEO of a tech company, PepTalkHer.

Meggie speaks globally on ways women can solve gender pay gap issues. Her company also runs corporate programs.

Here, she tells us about PepTalkHer.

What is PepTalkHer? 

We are a tech company on a mission to close the gender pay gap. We have developed an app PepTalkHer, which can be downloaded for free for Apple and Android. It’s like FitBit for your career.

PepTalkHer prompts you to reflect on your success and how you add value at work. You input your data and submit and we'll email you a dossier of your achievements so you can advocate and negotiate for your worth. We’re all about reminding you how awesome you are. 

How does PepTalkHer help women and businesses?

The app prompts you to track your success: the money you’ve helped bring in, positive feedback and your impact at work. 

Come performance review time, you have a dossier of achievements to draw on to back up your request for a raise or promotion. We use the nudge theory to shift mindset over time, creating a positive feedback loop that increases confidence and feeds into your negotiation points. 

Why develop the app?

I felt obliged. I had a poor experience in the workplace. My pay and conditions were different to those of my male colleagues. That experience sent me on this journey. I dislike injustice and felt compelled to create a solution to help women who may experience something similar. 

Is there a difference between equal pay and the gender pay gap?

Two people doing the same or comparable work must be paid the same. That is the law in Australia.

The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce. Societal and economic factors often combine over time to create wage gaps. In most cases these factors ensure women earn less over their lifetimes. This is the gender pay gap. 

At what level does the gender pay gap begin?

Shockingly, the gender pay gap starts in childhood.

Crazy but true.

We know from multiple studies: girls often receive less allowance than boys because the jobs they are given as girls are paid differently. For example, mowing the lawn, which is viewed as a 'tougher' boy chore is afforded more on the pay scale than doing the dishes – a girl’s job. Why are the jobs gendered? You can pay the lawn mower more if you deem it different, harder work but don’t designate it a job for the boys. That is unfair. Another way to skirt our unconscious bias is to pay all housework at the same rate because housework is housework and each job has its toughness.

How can gender neutral parental leave help women at work?

Companies with strong parental leave schemes enjoy better retention of staff and are likely to find recruiting easier.

Organisations that value providing ALL parents time off to care for their child are sending a message to their staff about equality and providing a fabulous opportunity for a family to achieve more success in the long term. 

Often women bring strengths that are underrated to leadership roles. What do you think they are?

Of course, everyone is different and brings different strengths and experiences to their roles. The qualities I’ve seen exhibited by women I’ve worked for include empathy, thoughtfulness and the ability to genuinely care and spend time getting to know their team. It pays huge dividends in the longer term. 

How can women gain an increased sense of financial confidence?

Financial freedom brings so much power. It brings choice, opportunity and fun. My mum taught me from a young age to always save a percentage of your income, no matter your salary (even when I was working at a drive through hamburger joint).

Financial confidence comes with research. I realised early in my journalistic career I was never going to be able to retire in the way to which I aspired. I started reading about finance, and quickly realised the value of compound interest, and how to make money work for you. My attitude towards what I earned and investing changed. I realised you can and should invest to grow your money and you can afford to start investing now, even if you only have $500 saved. The best time to start investing, as they say, is yesterday. 

When I started investing, I reached out to my college roommate who was always dabbling in shares at a time when I was more interested in partying. The joke is on me. He’s done extraordinarily well financially.

He told me about some low-cost ETFs (Electronically Traded Funds) in which he invested. I was starting from a very low base and had to research what ETFs were, how you bought them and then decide which ones interested me.

For anyone looking to learn more, try The Shed. How they break down money for women is particularly informative. Tonya Rapley from My Fab Finance is also a great place to begin.

Stockspot in Australia and Ellevest; Betterment in the USA and Nutmeg in the UK make it super easy to diversify your money as well.

I have my own trading account, where I regularly buy parcels of ETFs. I only invest money I’m happy to leave in the market over the long term. When I started, I was checking my account every day and freaking out if it dropped half a percent, 1 percent or worse. Now I check it monthly during our finance date night. Otherwise, that’s it.

What are you reading that’s giving you a sense of confidence in an area of your life?

One of my favourite books is Invisible Women (Penguin) by Caroline Criado Perez. I’m also reading Carrie Gracie’s Equal (Hachette) and have just seen Julia Gillard’s book with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweal, Women and Leadership

What are your proudest moments as a female business owner?

The best part of my job is hearing the success stories. We have people who use our app who reach out to say the app helped them negotiate for a raise, whether it’s $5000 or $10,000. A highlight was a woman who got in touch to tell us about her $83,000 pay rise. 

What do women need to tell themselves more often?

One of the things we found while researching PepTalkHer is that most of us love the concept of equal pay and know, in theory, we should negotiate or advocate for ourselves. However, a big thing that holds many of us back is the belief that we’re not worth more. We start to believe our inner critic and succumb to imposter syndrome. 

Being clear on the value you bring to the workplace is so powerful. If you wanted big biceps, you'd exercise them repeatedly with weights. It’s the same with self-worth. If you don't regularly reflect on how you’re contributing and adding value to the business, it can be easy to forget. PepTalkHer prompts you to recall and enter your successes. For example: did you hit a revenue target, did you contribute to company culture, or receive a compliment from your boss? 

We want to encourage everyone to remember those wins. Screen shot the compliments. Record the sale you made. Add it to the App. 

If you could tell any up and coming female entrepreneur anything, what would it be?

Leap and the net will appear.

Download our free Pay Raise Cheat Sheet here if you're looking for some help with your next negotiation.