My male colleagues are being paid more, and I’m not sure where to turn

Things are not always what they seem. Before you get concerned about what you deem to be injustices in the workplace, have all your facts, do your homework, then take action. Colleen Clarke

Nine To Five: Special to The Globe and Mail, Published Sunday, October 11, 2015


I am a visible-minority female working in middle management at a major Canadian bank. Recently I have come to know about significant pay inequity between myself and my male peers, despite similar experience, the same role and level of expertise. I also have a higher degree of education.

In our mid-year review, I raised the issue with my boss, who said he would look into it. Fast-forward two months. After not hearing anything, I followed up, and he cited budget issues and so on. One more month passed and nothing happened. Should I talk to human resources about this issue?

I feel cheated. I didn’t negotiate at the time of joining, or at the time of promotion. I relied on them to be fair.


Banks are probably among the most fair pay-equity employers in industry. It may be true that your colleagues are being paid differently than you, but it is not because you are a woman or a visible minority. You are a number in a bank; there is no discrimination. Job evaluation departments within human resources set salary band ranges and put each position on a level relevant to the job requirements. Within each band, there is discretion based on performance.

You have a right to know how pay equity works at your bank. The budget your boss referred to has nothing to do with pay equity. If your pay is different than others, there is a reason.

There are three pay ranges — minimum, mid and exceptional. It could be that you were hired at a lower pay range than your colleagues. Or that others possess a specialized skill, or they worked hard to acquire new skills or they started with higher pay so their salary reflects that.

Set up an appointment with your boss. Explain that you would like to understand the pay equity system. Say that you don’t feel mistreated, and you would like a referral so they can explain how it works. If the human resources department finds a discretion that is unjust, they will adjust the pay accordingly.

Colleen Clarke
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It

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