I just celebrated my 1 year anniversary at my company. I had rejected other job offers with a higher salary to be with this growing company with the stated expectation that they would increase my pay and be up for promotions over a short period of time. I had so much to show in terms of work accomplishments that I was ready for the conversation. I took on three important high profile projects outside of my regular job and two of these projects brought in new revenue. I set up the meeting with my manager and asked about my raise in the new year.
My manager told me that due to newly enacted compensation policies, I would not be getting a pay increase this year. I was surprised and wanted to think about it to see how I should best proceed. However, in doing my research I found out a person on my team was being promoted and another was getting a bump in salary to put her in line with the correct pay band for her duties. I was surprised and upset. Has the policy really changed? Was there something I didn’t know? All of my reviews and conversations had been positive and the information I was getting was confusing. I gathered myself and then asked my manager to advocate for me to the Head of our Department on why I deserve a raise and using my successes and accomplishments of the year.
While this was in process, I spoke with another colleague who had started after me, was in the same role with less experience, and she made more! I was stunned. I thought back to my original interviews and hiring process. I was told at that time that I had been given the maximum amount possible and they couldn't give me more as it would be unfair to others in the same role. They had offered me a small bonus instead and said there would be lots of opportunities for promotions and compensation increases. All these conversations and incoming information made me feel like I had been lied to the whole time.
Armed with a long list of information and hard data, I went back to my manager and, without giving names, I let them know I was not being fairly compensated. That others in the same role with fewer responsibilities were making more than me and that they had to work to correct the discrepancy. I was told they were going to escalate my "ask" again, and then later informed that things were in motion. They came back to me a few days later and told me that they could not raise my base salary, but instead offered me a "retention" bonus which meant that I had to stay with the company for the next 6 months or pay the bonus back. This was unacceptable to me as it would still put me at a disadvantage with my base salary being lower than others in the department next year. I refused to sign the bonus paperwork, which resulted in an uncomfortable conversation with the Head of the Department and HR. Finally, they decided to meet my demands of a fair and equal salary and increased my base rate to match the 3 people who had been hired right after me for the same role. It took some time, and some uncomfortable conversations, but I am now being paid the same rate as the others in my company doing the same role.