Alright Ladies, listen up!
A 2003 survey by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) showed that women who worked full-time, year-round, earned 76 percent of what men earned. That is outrageous! I don’t buy the excuse of men thinking women will get pregnant and quit. While that might be a factor looking at the overall job market, those statistics also fit in corporate America. And I don’t buy it for a minute – I had a baby, worked until I gave birth, and worked from home from one week after giving birth until I came back to the office. There are many corporate women out there like me. The same survey said that in certain professional fields, such as advertising, accounting, law and publishing, a man’s annual salary may outpace his female peer’s by more than $25,000.
Men make more money in the workplace because they ASK for it. While there are many ways of asking – and we will get to that – it is truly that straight forward. Women “hope” for it and men “ask” for it. Is it in our makeup? Partially. Women as gatherers need to do some more of that gathering in the workplace and build up the evidence to go in to bosses and ASK for it.
I’ll step off my soapbox for a moment to make a personal comment. For many years, I was one of those “hopers.” I hoped that if I was a good little female worker bee and was the first into the office and last out of the office, shot well over my goals, and did everything senior management asked even before they asked it, they would recognize my talents and see me as the golden child they were looking for at review time and it would magically reflect in my paycheck. That’s nuts in retrospect. And what I did end up with was a case of Bell’s Palsy from overworking and stress!
Now I’m on the other end, talking to corporate recruiters and executive job finders daily. I sit in front of CEOs in beginning negotiations and they will shake their head and say, “I can’t pay you X.” And I pause, perfectly still and say, “Well, I can’t take anything less than Y. And I am worth every penny.” Actually, that has created grins and relieved tension on several occasions. And almost always, I am looked at with a new found respect and they will say, “you know what – I believe you.”
Here are some lessons from the school of hard knocks (most on my wooden head!) that I’ve learned along the way as a woman fighting her way up that slippery ladder of corporate success.
10) Don’t look at it as a glass ceiling. It will reflect somehow and the men in your office will see you in the wrong light. They will think you are imagining a boys club. Believe me, most of the time you are not, but you can’t let them know that. If men are strong and assertive, they are seen as good business people; women are seen as being too aggressive and a bee-otch.
9) Don’t accept that invitation to go sporting clay shooting with them, or hang out at the bar. Instead, keep the associations classy and don’t put yourself in a position (unless you really are good at shooting sporting clays) where they can think or say, “Ah, look at the woman trying.” In other words, take the aspect of male versus female out of the equation. Golf is usually safe.
8) Emphasize large team accomplishments and write them to senior management via email. Understand that if you edify your team, the kudos can come back to you more readily, as people remember you writing about it. I know a woman who was made a manager who used this concept quite a bit. They assumed she was the one holding the team together.
7) Keep a personal record of your accomplishments and don’t wait until review time to bring them out. Know your numbers! In my field I needed to know how many clients, how much asset under management I had at any time and how much new business I had brought in. And I’d better know those numbers without scrambling for a notebook! If you don’t know your numbers, no one else will, unless they are bad. I used to ask my boss for a five minute “touch base” session each month to let him know of specific conquests. Be precise and bottom line oriented. That is what is appreciated. Back everything up with numbers and facts.
6) Total compensation is not only in monetary reward, but in those extras also. If it would make your job easier, ask for the Blackberry, flat screen panel computer or ergonomically designed desk chair. Be prepared to write up your request and justify why if would make your life easier and more importantly, make you more productive. Those are all requests I’ve made and gotten from previous bosses.
5) Bonus pool a bit more spare than usual this year? And you are a top performer? (of course!) Ask for more vacation time, or a higher job grade. In big corporations that go by job grade, it might mean a higher bonus at year end or more stock options, if not more salary.
4) Don’t wait until review time to ask your boss how they thing you are doing and what you could do to move up the career path faster? Be sure and have in mind what your career goals are, but if you have an idea of where you’d like to be, your boss is the one to help you get there. What do you think they talk about on that golf course?
3) When negotiating for a new position – go to a source like salary.com and really find out what that position pays in your neck of the woods. Then let them know you’ve done your homework. It can be presented in a very professional way (as all of this should obviously) but let them know that you know what the position should pay. Unfortunately, when I started in my field over a decade ago, I had not done this, and when a male was brought in over me with no experience, after I had been told everyone had to start where I had started, I was livid and asked my boss why. His response was that this new man had a family to feed! Now while that might be unusual, and I hope you never hear that, if I had known from the start what the position was worth before I accepted, that might not have happened to me.
2) Don’t back down on negotiations – remember EVERYTHING is negotiable. Also remember, the first person who speaks LOSES in a negotiation. Don’t fidget, hold your ground, with maybe just a tiny hint of a smile. Keep it friendly. But if you know your worth, don’t back down.
1) It’s OK to say no! If the job isn’t offering what you know you can get, go ahead and say, “I’m sorry, but that is just not in the range of what my skill-set is worth or what I can get in the marketplace.” I’ve actually had negotiations jump over fifty thousand dollars in my favor using that mindset. But you have to really be ready to walk. If it is not right, don’t take it thinking that you will eventually change their mind. I’ve known many women who tried that only to be disappointed years later when it never came into fruition.
It’s all about confidence in who you are, what you can do, and how well you do it! So, go out and ASK for it!