It’s 2022, and our lives are all about exposure. We broadcast our every move on social media from the moment we wake up to when our head hits the pillow. Our lives are about all over-sharing and putting our names, our brand, and our skills out there for the world to see and consume.
We spend a lot of time thinking about our image, both personally and professionally. But the harsh reality is that exposure doesn’t pay the bills. Social media fame doesn’t (usually) cover the rent.
Having your name recognized, photos liked, or videos shared does not make a successful career. Having your boss praise your efforts or give you a shout-out doesn’t put money in your bank account. If you want professional success and to be a Jefa, you need to demand what is yours, you need to know your worth, and you need to speak up for what you want.
For just a moment, let’s discuss the fact that women are still earning less than their male counterparts, with the same level of experience and qualifications. This is especially true for minority women. According to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man makes, and for minority women, the stats are even worse.
Recent research shows that Black women in the U.S. are paid 36% less than white men and 20% less than white women. In addition, Latinas in the U.S. are paid 43% less than white men and 28% less than white women.
To make things worse appears that the pay gap widens with age. Also, data suggests that women are fulfilling more lower-paying jobs, so even if that gender pay gap were too narrow, women would still be earning far less than men. Sigh.
Bottom line: women need to declare their worth. They need to step up and raise their hand to ask for what they deserve, but to do that, they also need to feel empowered to demand what they want.
Easier said than done, but in these tumultuous times, women deserve more. More respect. More opportunity. More equality. More compensation. While the shout-outs are nice, and the slow clap on International Women’s Day is appreciated, that exposure will not pay the bills. It’s time to show us the money.
So where do you start if you want to be a Jefa and get what’s yours?
Know Your Worth, and Do Your Research
In order to ask for what you want in terms of compensation, benefits, pay, and title, you need to understand the landscape of your industry and your role. Do your research. Find out what other people (men and women) in your same position and with the same qualifications earn.
Knowledge is power, especially where advocating for yourself and your career are concerned. It’s essential that you understand your personal market value; without that information, you’ll never be able to negotiate effectively.
But how can you find out the going rate for your job and other employees at a similar skill level? It’s not like people wear name tags with their salary on them. Perhaps they should, but talking about your earnings is still somewhat hush-hush.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Look for industry journals, membership groups, online communities, and recruiters who might have that inside scoop. The goal is to find out what a clone of you might make if all else was equal (education, prior experience, skills, employment location, etc.)
Think of this as a temperature check of salary ranges in your industry. Once you know that, you’ll be far more equipped to negotiate for yourself.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for More
Once you know what you want and what you deserve. It’s time to take action. Now comes that hard part — how do you ask for what you deserve?
It’s not easy for many women to speak up and ask for a raise, a bonus, or even more responsibility. But if you don’t speak up for yourself, no one else will. They might compliment you and express appreciation for your efforts, but they will never advocate for your pay raise the same way you will.
There are several tactics to consider, but according to Estelle Erasmus, a writing coach and Forbes contributor, the first step is to go into every negotiation with a Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement or a BATNA. That means that when negotiating anything in your career, you must walk in “knowing what is most important to you, knowing your bottom line (what you won’t go beneath) and the value of what you are negotiating.”
What will you ask for next if your first request falls through? What are you willing to sacrifice, and what aspects of your negotiation are most valuable to you? What is the lowest deal you’re willing to accept? Once you consider all that, you’re ready to ask for what you believe you deserve and equally important, you’re prepared to move forward based on your employer’s response.
Remember that asking for what you deserve does not come naturally to most people, and it’s a skill that is perfected over time with practice. But it’s always a good thing to put your worth out there for the universe to know your value.
Share Your Success
Ask for more opportunities to show what you are capable of, and don’t downplay your success. If you achieved something at work, share it. The same goes for personal accomplishments. Don’t be modest about how you have contributed, and make sure others are aware of your job well done.
To have a seat at the table, you need to earn it, but you also need to make sure the powers that be are aware of what you have done to deserve that seat. While many women struggle to self-promote, and no one likes a bragger, when it comes to being a Jefa and negotiating your worth.
Be a Role Model to Others
Once you have the knowledge, the experience, the confidence, and the compensation to show for it, pay it forward.
Women from all walks of life must find sources of strength and empowerment to gain what they deserve professionally. Think about the role models who inspired you, and then be that for someone else.
Share your best advice. Offer to coach another woman on your team or in your company. Work with minority women and give them the valuable insight you once searched for. Powerful women empower women.
Remember That You are More Than Your Paycheck
Yes, women deserve equal pay, and everyone deserves to be paid what they are worth and have their contribution matched by their compensation. But never forget that you are so much more than your paycheck or your title at work.
While paying the rent is important, so is your mental health, physical well-being, relationships, spiritual satisfaction, and overall happiness. Don’t forsake those parts of who you are to meet benchmarks at work or to feel like you are worthy of joy and fulfillment.
If you ask for what you deserve at work, and you are denied that compensation, then it might be time to consider other ways that you can improve your job (think more paid time off, other fringe benefits, equity in the company, flexible working hours, etc.) or start your search for new opportunities.
No one said being a Jefa was easy, but never forget what you are working for, and that you are worth it.