America, how can we reach our greatest potential, if we are willing to let half of our working population wallow in broken promises? The Constitution says, “All men are created equal." I have faith that meant women, too. But, just in case you think I'm being Pollyannaish about this, consider the points in our history when women were denied things we agree are important like voting. Suffrage was not an accident along the roadside. We strategized and mobilized for a woman's right to vote.
A push for closing the gender pay gap is also rooted in being a fulfilled American. Whether you work at home, for a large company or a small business, the invitation should be same: Bring forth your dream-powered hard work ethic and best skills and get respected and compensated equally for those merits.
In the spirit of who we are as Americans, my husband and I are raising two young "women under construction" to be fearless in their pursuit of happiness and success. They don't have to wait for men to step aside to hand them anything. They can create value by using the gifts God gave them. They can insert their purpose into an economy that will be glad to have a couple of girls who can code!
Trying to convince people to desire to do the right thing is exhausting. And, it is not fast-acting enough to matter for most women already in the work force. Did you know that our ability to earn a paycheck is on par with our male counterparts for the same positions dwindles rapidly after we reach age 35? When we are in our 20s, women earn nearly 90% of what men do… that's as close as most of us are getting to equal pay. As we age, the gap grows. And, even if we break into the stratosphere of executive leadership in corporate America, there are so few seats at the top, women often exit the workforce before reaching those top jobs.
When we are in our 20s, women earn nearly 90% of what men do… that's as close as most of us are getting to equal pay. As we age, the gap grows.
I am definitely over 35 and seeing a new generation repeat the same course. On this National Equal Pay Day, let's take action for ourselves, ladies. Let's devise our mission to erase the difference between his pay and hers. Having been born and raised a military dependent, or brat, as we are called, the idea of DEVISING A MISSION to attain victory against all odds, is basic to me.
Here's a mission plan:
1) Know everything you can about a situation
2) Pull together a squad of strong, smart, determined, positive-minded women and
3) Steady your nerves for a headwind of doubters and naysayers.
Know What You Can Know
In her book Women Don't Ask, Linda Babcock found that only about 7 percent of women attempted to negotiate their first salary compared with 57 percent of men, and that women who negotiated were able to increase their salary.
Also, according to the Census Bureau, in 2009, the number of women in the workforce exceeded the number of men, and more men than women lost jobs. With more families relying on women's paychecks for their livelihood, the US must address the wage gap for the sake of American families and their financial stability.
Our current Small Business Administration Secretary has spent a lifetime advocating for women in leadership. Linda McMahon has been widely recognized as one of the country's top female executives during her days as CEO of WWE. Since women own a majority of small businesses in the U.S., her office is a resource to learn more about getting loans and support for women to become more economically independent.
"When women do well societies thrive. That's an ancient truth. When we learn to read, write, vote and work, economies not only change, they burst open." Harris Faulkner and family
Build Your Squad
We are going to need some Ride or Die guys with us. We can rise without tearing men down. Besides, some of the misters would love to help us sisters! Let's put them to work on our behalf, singing our praises in reference and recommendation letters; phone calls and connections with people who can hire and pay us equally.
As women, our biggest obstacle is sometimes ourselves. This happens when we allow ourselves to be more focused on keeping the peace in the work place rather than pushing for change. We must reach together. We are in the Olympics of economic mobility. When women do well societies thrive. That's an ancient truth. When we learn to read, write, vote and work, economies not only change, they burst open.
W.E.B. Dubois taught us: Nothing is stronger than a woman determined to rise. Imagine if we got together in corporate lunch break rooms, restaurant kitchens, boardrooms or newsrooms to discuss our value and salaries. Many companies have put in writing a nondisclosure clause to prevent us from doing that. Hmmm. You think that's an accident? It's barrier. So, stop agreeing to it.
Our smaller groups will shore us up as we work hard and dream big. Men do this on the golf course. Men do this at the gym in the locker rooms; Friday night end of the week drinks; watching anything that involves driving a ball into hoops, goal posts, ice-cold nets etc. Girl's night anyone?
Lean In To The Headwind Of Doubters And Naysayers With A Strategy
Women either don't want to, feel they are not worthy of or just don't know how to negotiate on their own behalf. When you get the opportunity to talk money, do it! Show your first or your fifth boss, you know your value. Put some money in savings when you can so you can strengthen your resolve. There is risk in negotiations because you have to be willing to walk away sometimes. We must learn that this this is a key to changing our future in the workforce. We must negotiate our right to be compensated equally. Women care for more family members in a multitasking fashion than anyone on the planet. We are so often the breadwinners in single parent households. We are people in motion and our rise begets more success for our children, especially our daughters.
Take workshops on negotiations and leadership. Some employers will offer educational funds for this. Some churches even offer economic strategy workshops. Keep a sharp eye out for opportunities to increase your knowledge about increasing your pay.
There will be days when you learn the stinging truth about a position that went to a man because another man just thought he'd be better. And, in my case, I've had some amazing career posts that men were also doing. It's been heartbreaking to discover that my paychecks were a fraction of theirs, even when my TV ratings were higher. Yup, that's checkable fact, sadly. I say to myself: Press On.
Let's Do This
But there is great news. In 2017, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet and I led a conference on helping women close the pay gap in our lifetimes. Julie and I poured over research that showed that by 2020, we could begin to make a dent if we made sure women do these three things: Stay digitally wise and connected; work in non-traditional industries for women like technology, engineering etc… and I added, we must learn to negotiate like sharks swimming in target-rich waters!
Stay digitally wise and connected; work in non-traditional industries for women like technology, engineering etc.. We must learn to negotiate like sharks swimming in target-rich waters!
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WRITTEN BYHarris Faulkner