Research done by McKinsey in 2016 found out that women remain underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline. They also found out that women negotiate for raises and promotions as often as men but face more push-back when they do.
Sometime ago, Proshare, a provider of finance market intelligence and analysis, approached me to be on a platform termed “2016 Economy and You” The platform hosted prolific people like the CEO of United capital, Toyin Sanni, and some respected financial personnel in Nigeria.
My initial reaction was “I have just 7 years of experience in comparison to most of these moguls.” I stalled, hoping my lack of response will be interpreted as a No. On second thoughts, I accepted the challenge as I knew that I had something to offer, hence, they approached me.
It was after everything had played out that I realized that, we (both gender included) as a whole have to keep re-emphasizing reasons why women need to lean in, in the words of Sheryl Sandberg. Although I have held leadership roles, managed teams, represented multinational organization but I still fell prey to holding back, how much more the grad student, the entry-level employees or the interns?
This message needs to be communicated at all levels and in every sphere. The experience made me go on a career journey and evaluate ways that I could have sabotaged myself and statistics to back it.
On my first job, I didn’t negotiate salary, as it was within the bandwidth of entry level employees. The bandwidth had a 7.5% standard deviation. So if I had taken a 10% less than the upper range, I had set myself back by 10% of potential salary, putting me at a disadvantage as this plays precedence into my future job. Come on, I left money on the table.
A research by American Psychological Association of graduating MBA students found that half of the men had negotiated their job offers as compared to only one eighth of the women. This general pattern has been replicated in survey studies of working adults and in laboratory experiments. But why?
To bring in a bit of local content, we do not have companies like Glassdoor who shares reviews, salaries and benefits from employees extensively. This could help in the prepping process. The Nigerian arm of Glassdoor is yet to be fully comprehensive as many local companies information are yet to be listed on it. When next you’re out with friends (both genders), speak about remuneration, increase your network and endeavor to be aware of the reward system before an interview.
Do you know that women negotiating for their pay come at a cost? No, not just the monetary cost of losing out on potential income, but research has it that management frowns more towards women that negotiate as opposed to their male counterparts. Ask anyways.
Are you not applying for jobs you could apply for? As one Forbes article put it, “Men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.” You aren’t applying for jobs because you don’t feel you tick all the boxes? If you’ve met 60% of the required criteria, go ahead and apply, give the recruiter the opportunity to make the decision. Don’t shoot it down yourself.
I have worked at 2 multi national media companies – CNBC Africa and Bloomberg Africa – the nature of my job required me to interview who has the authority on the selected point of discussion. When selecting guests, I gravitated towards visibility. It was easier, I could easily just pick who was more visible. Guess what? The men were more visible, I do understand there is an imbalance of female representation in management. But even those represented are not visible enough.
Are you a leader in your field? Are you upcoming? Be strategically active on Social media; engage critical discourse, link articles you’ve written on your LinkedIn page, update your data, contribute to conversations in your field. Put yourself out there. Nobody can sell you like yourself!
Do you know a female doing a great job? Recommend her, suggest her for promotion, and introduce her to a network that will add value to her. Do you know that people hire people who look like them? While the relativity in looks cuts across culture, personality, gender is part of it.
To further buttress this, a male owned company usually has more men on its team while a female owned company has an average of more women on its team. There is a need for a gender balanced representation on the decision making level to influence changes.
The uneven representation of women in board level can be addressed by grooming them young; giving them a better shot at the hot seat.
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