Today is International Women’s Day. It’s a day where we take time out to celebrate the achievements of women. In doing so, we also raise awareness about bias and the inequities that exist for women. To understand the inequities between women and men in the workforce, we need to dig further than simply looking at gender. This is where the intersectionality of gender and race shows up in a big way.
The data speaks volumes to these known issues. According to the World Economic Forum in 2019, it will take 257 years before the gender gap closes across the world, and women and men will earn the same pay for the same job. You can read about it in this NBC News article.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) reports that even though more and more women have entered the workforce over the past 50 years, are getting higher education, and are working longer hours, they are still earning less. CAP says that the U.S. Census shows on average white women earn $.79 cents per $1 earned by white men.
And generally, women of color experience an even larger wage gap. Black women earn $.62, Native American women earn $.57, and Hispanic or Latino women earn $.54 for every $1 a white man earns.
We’ve reached a threshold where it’s simply not enough to know that these issues exist. We need to take action in order to move the needle.
Reading that, one word comes to mind: Overwhelming! It can make you want to throw your hands up in the air. You might even wonder What can I do to have an impact or move the needle?
It can be hard to know what to do with that information, whether you’re a woman in the corporate world or who owns her own business. The fact is, these statistics are broad. The good news is if you look at individual women, there are exceptions.
That means we can make a difference, one woman at a time. Every woman has a chance to help break barriers to pave the way for women in the future.
You’ve probably heard the mantra “Control what you can control.” While you may not be able to influence how other people pay you, you certainly can control how you show up and participate in the conversation. Here are a few specific areas for you to focus on in order to do your part in bringing equity to compensation.
Ask for more—before you start the job.
Sometimes women hold the mindset of, “I’ll show my value and my worth on the job, and I’ll get my pay increase later, once I’ve proven myself.” The fact is, if you’re looking to be hired in a corporation, it’s actually old school to expect a 3% pay increase every year. In today’s marketplace, it’s becoming commonplace that annual raises are much less than expected if they are given at all. Many women believe if they show what they can do, they’ll be paid appropriately. Doing so puts all the power in the employer or client’s hands. Instead, women can become empowered by taking responsibility for asking what they want ahead of time and then show what they can do.
Women can also control how they show up when they ask for what they want. It’s a matter of mindset, intention, and presentation.
Make it a practice to always ask for more. If you want higher pay, more time off, or another kind of benefit, be encouraged and ask for more before doing the work. Recognize that your past experience is valuable. If you pitch or sell to clients, know that you’ll generate the necessary results. Then notice how it feels to stand in your power when asking for the rate you deserve from the get-go.
A CNBC study found that a majority of women—60%—have never negotiated their pay with an employer. It’s much more likely that women will simply change jobs as 72% of women say they’ll leave an employer to get a salary bump somewhere else.
Women, we are leaving money on the table without even asking for it!
Improve your negotiation skills.
The best time to ensure you’ll get paid what you’re worth is when you’re offered a job.
If women ever hope to reach pay equity, we need to play by the same rules of engagement as our male counterparts, which includes negotiating. Negotiation is an expected part of the process. Let me repeat that: Negotiation is an expected part of the process.
Get as clear as possible before you get a job offer about what you want and need financially. That way you’ll be prepared to ask for it and negotiate.
If women ever hope to reach pay equity, we need to play by the same rules of engagement as our male counterparts, which includes negotiating. Negotiation is an expected part of the process.
Both parties will aim to get the best deal, so to help strengthen your position, come to the table armed with data about what the job is worth, or in the case of women business owners, how you can offer a competitive price.
Know the lowest amount you will be satisfied with and if there is an amount that is a red flag for you. It’s a good idea to know not only the pay you want but also the pay rate you’ll walk away from.
Feel clear from the start that if you choose to walk away, it’s for all the right reasons. If one company won’t pay you your worth, likely another will and you’ll be much happier there.
Get an edge over your competition.
When going for a job, know that you’ll be competing against men and women. According to CAP, statistics have shown that when women have higher education than men or are a member of a union, it can help reduce the pay gap.
You can also demonstrate your value to the hiring party by raising your level of competition during the interview process. Set expectations with the way you manage yourself in the interview and when negotiating. This might look like being proactive with the company about your interest in the role. Dig into what problems the company is facing and demonstrate how you are the answer to their problems. The company may have pain points that relate to the interpersonal issues arising from a workforce focused on the individual and not the team or client.
Women are often highly emotionally intelligent, which can be exhibited through excellent communication, problem-solving, building up the team and fostering teamwork, and resolving conflict.
Highlighting these kinds of attributes will help you stand out and give the company a sense of how you’ll be an asset beyond the job description.
Claim the value that you bring.
When you know your worth deep in your bones, it’ll naturally be a part of you that you respect and protect.
Stand in your power to ensure that you won’t settle for less, and you can’t settle for less because you can’t live with selling yourself short. You’d rather walk away from an opportunity than know you’ll feel resentful in the long run by settling.
When you know your worth deep in your bones, it'll naturally be a part of you that you respect and protect.
If this sounds challenging, learn from the women who came before you. Search out empowering speakers and gain wisdom from their stories. Know that you are in good company.
You can also help your own mindset by listening to meditations to help you build your inner resilience. Consider starting with my guided morning Powerup meditations.
Be confident in your presentation.
When you have an upcoming interview or client meeting, there are things that you can do to prepare to help you show up in confidence. This can add to the impression you make and to their trust in the value that you bring.
Be comfortable in advance with what you want to say. Focus on showing up in service, which can help you curtail any self-consciousness. Also, get very clear on what you stand for in your work. When you take a stand, your passion and confidence around your purpose can shine through.
If your confidence quotient can use some strengthening, practice in advance. You may need to practice saying your fees or your desired annual salary until you can say it confidently, without hesitation or apology. Practice until you say it like you mean it.
There’s likely to be a plethora of inner dialogues telling you all the reasons why it’s better to keep clammed up and keep doing things the way you’ve always done them. But sister, doing the same ol’ things and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
For some women, asking for what you’re worth may feel daunting. You might feel scared that they’ll reject you and you’ll lose your opportunity. There’s likely to be a plethora of inner dialogues telling you all the reasons why it’s better to keep clammed up and keep doing things the way you’ve always done them. But sister, doing the same ol’ things and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Although you can’t control the fear itself, you can control how you respond in the face of it. It can make you tiny or it can be air to the flame. Let yourself be fueled by blazing new trails instead of shrinking at the possibility of “failure.” If fear, lack of confidence, or poorly representing yourself is something you struggle with, working with a coach can help you work through it so that you can break your own personal threshold or glass ceiling. If you are interested in exploring working together, book your complimentary consult to find out what working with a powerful high-performance coach is all about.
As always, I’m here to support you in your leadership journey and to provide the guidance and wisdom I’ve learned along the way. Share this with a friend or colleague who needs to hear it and find me on social media for daily leadership nuggets!
In Service To Your Greatness,
Aubrey Armes, PHR