This article starts with celebration! One of my clients just received a fantastic raise, big raise! She is very smart, works her tail off, is an amazing leader, etc. Yet, she has been underpaid throughout the time she has been in her current role. There are many reasons women are underpaid in the workplace, including systemic bias and sexism. Additionally, many women struggle with the “ask”, my client did. It took a systematic approach to having this wonderful celebration. Are you struggling with the “ask”, too? I get it. One of the personal stories I tell in a keynote is about messages received in childhood regarding asking. If you had been with as an 8-year-old child on that sweltering July day, you would have seen my grandmother and me go into Niebuhr’s general store in the tiny town of Cobden, IL. Imagine a scene right out of a movie set in the early 1900’s. Picture the old scales to weigh produce and barrels of bulk candy. Out of one eye I spied a bin of lemon drops, my favorite. I was just ready to ask for some when the proprietor commented to my grandmother, “Helen, it’s so refreshing to have Kay in the store, she isn’t like other kids who demand candy from their parents the minute they walk in the door.” My grandmother said, “You are so right, Kay is such a sweet little thing, she never asks for anything.” Any “ask” that was in me died on that old wooden floor. I still struggle with asking for what I want, so I get it. However, I have made huge strides, my clients have made great strides and you can, too. Never fear, I am going to break the process down for you. Will this guarantee that you get a raise? Nope! However, I can GUARANTEE you likely will NOT receive one if you do not ask.
What keeps you from the ask? Let’s break it down:
- Women having traditionally been taught not to ask for much of anything! From childhood, you may have been taught that powerful message. Don’t ask for the last roll at dinner, don’t ask for the larger bedroom, don’t ask for a larger office, don’t ask for more money. Asking has been equated to greed and being greedy, especially for women, is a no-no. Heck even talking about money in many families is a no-no. Often the lack of conversation about money causes intense conflict with family members when someone passes away. Lack of conversations about money prior to marriage, can create problems that end in divorce. Lack of conversations about money can create difficulties with teens headed to college. The result may a significant discomfort with asking for more money, whether you work in a corporate job, a small business, a non-profit or you own your own business. For entrepreneurs, raising fees can bring out all the challenges listed above. I challenge you to consider the messages you received about money growing up and are still receiving. You must break through those messages to be paid what you are worth.
- For some women, another obstacle is the ongoing challenge of worth. Many of the women I talk with struggle with their value in the workplace. There often is a focus on what they don’t have versus their contributes to their workplace. You may have a laundry list of what is lacking: 1) time in the role 2) an advanced degree 3) additional certifications, you get my drift. It is essential to reframe this conversation. Reframe the conversation around value, we will focus on this in the next bullet. If you can objectively see that there are some gaps, work on remedying those. Perhaps take an online course, write some articles for LinkedIn, join a professional organization for your field. These actions indicate your willingness to invest in value to your company.
- The third leg of this money stool is your approach. This approach MUST be based on the value you are bringing. What value do you bring to the workplace? Have you cut costs? Have you increased revenue? Have you solved problems? Refocus on your contributions and what you do have. If you are unsure about what you have and are contributing, go to my website: https://www.highheeledsuccess.com. Visit the Library tab, our newsletters are archived there and read the March/April 2019 newsletter, pay special attention to the third bullet in Kay’s Corner regarding documenting your successes/value. Keep in mind, your salary “ask” is NOT a conversation about your needs! Maybe you have a compassionate boss who really cares about your needs, but most raises are calculated on what you bring to the plate. Coming to the conversation with your needs only makes you look needy, not valuable.