At an educational session on wage inequality in the meeting-planning industry during the recent IMEX America show in Las Vegas, a standing-room only crowd heard tips and advice from veteran industry players about what planners need to do to receive an appropriate salary for their work.
First, Amanda Armstrong, senior vice president of brand and community engagement for Encore, said that keeping salary information to oneself is not the best approach for planners, especially in an industry that employs a large majority of women. Why? Because too often the wages for mid-level and senior planners who are women are notably lower than for men in similar positions.
Armstrong’s first suggestion, then, is for planners to assemble a “personal board of directors”—a group of friends from other industries as well as trusted colleagues in the meetings field who can speak in confidence to one another about their roles, responsibilities, compensation, and approaches to communicating with management so that both the planner and her confidantes become more informed for their own negotiating situations.
Another idea: Planners can evaluate salary and job-responsibility data collected by industry associations such as Meeting Professionals International, Professional Convention Management Association, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Corporate Event Management Association, and others so that they approach management with data that’s wider than the anecdotal knowledge obtained from their personal board of directors.
For planners who desire a role at another organization, Mike Gamble, president and CEO of job-placement firm SearchWide Global, recommends that they look at “wage stickiness” in the states they are willing to work in. Specifically, there are statistics on what the wage gap is between men and women in a given state in recent years; that data will help planners understand how likely it is to get the proper compensation at a given organization. (see photo at bottom)
One way that planners can help themselves land a job with a jump in pay is to take a leap of ambition, meaning “apply for a job even if you don’t have every single skill the company says it’s looking for,” Armstrong says. “Tell the hiring manager that you would be happy to attend training in the first 60 days to develop those skills, and in that time you’ll demonstrate your work ethic and ability to adapt and grow.”
Another way to land the proper compensation during a job hunt is to leave your present or previous salary out of the conversation. Instead, “come into the meeting armed with comps for the role you are applying for,” Gamble says. “It’s the only thing that matters in that discussion."