"Women do two-thirds of the world's work. Yet, they earn only one-tenth of the world's income and own less than one percent of the world's property. They are among the poorest of the world's poor."Barber B. Conable Jr., former president of World Bank
A theme I've seen countless times over my years... a theme I myself have fallen victim to in the past: professional women who are complacent about earning far less than the marketplace will bear for their level of skill and expertise. How about this for a mantra?
I DESERVE TO EARN MY WORTH. I WILL TAKE CONTROL OF MY OWN ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT.
Let this be the touchstone message you tell yourself, whether you're still in high school looking at colleges and career options; whether you're a young woman in her twenties just starting out in a career or looking for the right career; whether you're in your 30's, 40's, 50's and beyond; single, married, divorced, widowed, with or without children; in your dream career, between jobs, going back to school for an advanced degree, still figuring out what you want to do when you grow up. Whatever life phase you find yourself in, I want your mind-set always to be: "I deserve to earn my worth and to feel independently in control of my financial situation and security at all stages of my life."
But, in order to earn our worth, we have to feel entitled to make more money, and we must feel good about it when we do. This is a hard concept for many women to wrap their minds around. Would you answer true or false to the following statements?
* You've never visualized yourself as being wealthy, financially secure, and fully in control of your money, assets, and investments, no matter if you are single or partnered, and no matter what stage you are in your career.
* The idea of earning a lot of money... as much as the highest earners in your industry earn, or maybe more... makes you cringe. It makes you feel greedy, or morally bankrupt, because money is tainted with incorrect values. Or, you feel you aren't qualified to earn that kind of money.
* You don't know what the highest earners in your industry or profession earn.
* You have no clear sense of what the range of total compensation packages is for people with your training and expertise... including performance incentives, stock options, early salary reviews, and signing bonuses. You don't know how to go about finding this information.
Women constantly tell me they leave money on the table when negotiating, including backpedaling on a demand or point they've basically already won, or would have, if they'd kept their mouths shut. That's if they negotiate at all. They tell me all the time that they accept less money than a man doing an identical job, don't negotiate salaries, and are afraid to ask for more.
Why is this so? Because women are raised to believe that we're all equally deserving, and thinking that you're better than someone else, including that you've worked hard and should be paid well for the level of expertise you've achieved, is conceited. We want it, but when we get it, we back off out of guilt or fear. We then don't fully partake in the spoils of success; we don't hold ourselves out as experts, taking advantage of the publicity, marketing opportunities, and the higher salaries and fees that goes with success and reflect our true worth.
My challenge to women is to recognize where you're stronger than anyone else and make 'em pay for it. To paraphrase George Orwell, all people are equal, or should be in certain regards. But, in business, in the marketplace, some are more equal than others. That some includes YOU.