If you are looking for someone to help you find that confidence to go and ask for more in your career look no further than Sallie Krawcheck. She earned the nickname the Queen of Wall Street as she was the first woman to run not one, but two Wall Street firms — Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. Though she worked in one of the most famously male-dominated industries (and boy, she can tell you some stories), when she left Bank of America it was not surprising that she turned her focus to helping women.
In 2016, she launched Ellevest, the first digital investment platform designed specifically for women. Ellevest’s goal is to equip women with the tools they need to prepare financially for their future and to close the gender investment gap. Yes, there is a wage gap, but there is also an investment gap.
A recent study by Fidelity Investments found that eight in 10 women have refrained from discussing money with family and friends, partly because the subject is “uncomfortable” or “too personal” and only 47% said they feel confident when they talk about money and finances with a financial advisor.
Krawcheck wants to change all that. She believes that women need to take control of your money because it gives you the freedom to do what you want both professionally and personally. Last week, Ellevest launched five new funds, the Ellevest Impact Portfolios, to help women be socially responsible and impactful when they invest.
In light of Equal Pay Day, and asking for more in your career, Ladders talked with Krawcheck on her best advice for getting more from your job, which doesn’t necessarily mean a raise right away, and why saying “no” can sometimes be the best answer.
Nobody ever got fired for asking
Krawcheck says you have to be aware of the gap but have the confidence to go in and ask for more.
“We know we women are underpaid. We are underpaid by 21 cents on the dollar if we are white women and it’s much less than that if we are women of color. We know there is an increasing awareness of it,” she told Ladders. “The old days of people not knowing about it are over but we still need to face facts. Even if our boss is a terrific guy just given the ways of the world there is an implicit bias. We come in with lower salaries and we don’t negotiate.”
Krawcheck emphasized that nobody ever got fired for asking for a raise and if they did, it probably isn’t a place they should be working.
Ask for 27 other things
If your boss says no to a salary bump that is not the end of the conversation.
“If you do not get the raise ask for 27 other things. I wouldn’t start with flexibility because that tends to send signals,” Krawcheck said. “They may ask, ‘Is she serious?’ But how about paying for this coding class? How about a marketing class? Could I have time off for this class? Can I work on this marketing project? Could you introduce me to so and so to be my mentor?
“Whatever those things are you want to do it with an eye of returning to money later. This will turn into money next month or next year.”
Don’t go in cold
Asking for a raise should not be a spontaneous thing. You need to be carefully tracking your performance all year.
“You have to be working on this all year round. Don’t go in cold and ask for a raise. There is still plenty of time right now. You need to establish what success looks like. What do you value? What are our most important initiatives?” Krawcheck told Ladders. “What you don’t want to do all year is think you’re doing a great job but actually be working on something your boss doesn’t care much about. What are those metrics?”
Just say no
Though the natural response when your boss or superior asks you to do something is “yes,” you need to look at how saying yes to everything is impacting your performance in the long run.
“Learning to say no. A trap we women fall into is we become the work wife. We love to please and say yes to everything. ‘Will you take on this project? Yes.’ Research shows that you get rewarded for doing really well and going really deep on a few things,” she says. “You’re not getting rewarded for doing pretty good on a whole bunch of things. Some things aren’t important to the company. So rather than immediately say yes, you can say yes but ask what would like me to give up? What’s the tradeoff?”