Today is Equal Pay Day and already we’re starting to see the different ways people are recognizing its importance. Female lawmakers on Capitol Hill are introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act, Sheryl Sandberg is dominating the news cycle with her #20PercentCounts campaign, and the ad industry’s own Cindy Gallop created a chat bot to help women negotiate for the raise they deserve. These powerful messages draw awareness to the flat truth- despite decades of movement, the gender wage gap persists in America.
I’m fortunate. I’ve had the luxury of learning from my mistakes and growing my career in an environment and at a company that values Equal Pay and puts their money where their mouth is. When I started at 360i, I was 30 years old, and I ran Public Relations and incubated our social media practice. Now 12 years later, I sit at the helm as one of the few female CEOs in the advertising industry. There’s no trick; ascension is demanding and at times, turbulent. But whether you’re fighting for equal consideration, equal wages or equal anything there are three notions that helped me propel forward, and for all those taking action today, they might help you too (and fellas, this works just as well for you):
Have the crucial conversation
Yes, you’d rather just write an email. Yes, it can be excruciating. Yes, your stomach will be in knots. But when I look back on my career, each turning point grew from a crucial conversation I pushed myself to have. Raise concerns when something doesn’t feel right to you, speak up when you need to give constructive feedback on a colleague’s work, convince the client to take a different direction. Having the crucial conversation is a core tenant we teach at 360i. The trick is not about working up the courage, though; it’s about balancing candor with diplomacy and ensuring everyone in the conversation knows you want to get to a better outcome for everyone involved, not that you’re trying to start a fight.
Stress the benefit
I know this is about you and your worth. You know this is about you and your worth. But for your boss, for your manager, your client, your colleague, it needs to be about them and how they can benefit from your worth. The crucial conversation should be benefit oriented. Frame your argument so it benefits the recipient. Proactively answer the questions you know they’re thinking. Everyone’s north star of what matters to them is different, so ensure that your benefit is theirs as well.
It’s about you, but make it about them.
Anyone that’s worked with or for me would tell you that my most defining workplace trait is my tenacity, my doggedness, my unwavering ability to never take ‘no’ for an answer. I’ve been called names, accused of being too aggressive but it’s a rather simple fact that we make our own destiny by embracing who we are. Don’t shy away from your inner tenacity for the sake of being courteous. Oftentimes, things may be super obvious to you about your benefits, but it’s critical to recognize that others may not notice them as much unless you actually point it out.
Shattering glass, whether ceiling, door or window, usually does end up making some noise, and that’s actually a good thing, because it also rings the bell for others to do the same as well.