Fair Compensation Depends on Your Attitude

Last week I presented to a group of executive women and relayed a story about compensation. As a senior banker, I met with my manager to discuss year-end bonuses for the junior officers. My boss had divided the group’s allotted amount and ran the figures by me. One particular banker was slotted to receive more than another who had performed better over the year. “Yes, but he won’t complain” my boss said about the better performer, and, regarding the other banker, he added “but he will if he receives less.”

My point was not to tell the women they need to complain, but that they need to let their managers know that they care about every aspect of their careers, including their compensation. And the right time to convey that impression is throughout the year, not just after a pay, promotion or assignment decision has been made. One of the women present asked what happened to the two bankers. “Did the better performer eventually surpass the other?” Although that would have been a nice ending, it didn’t happen. Part of success is being able to advocate for yourself. If you don’t, you shouldn’t expect fair to happen.