It’s no secret that broadly, women experience disparities in pay and promotions.
“Promotion rates for women lag behind those of men, and the disparity is largest at the first step up to manager—for every 100 women promoted, 130 men are promoted…In addition, external hiring is not improving the representation of women. At every level, companies hire fewer women from the outside than men, and this is especially pronounced in senior management,” according to the Women in the Workplace 2016 study of 132 companies and more than 34,000 employees by McKinsey and Lean In.
It’s an ongoing project to get women on equal par with men at work. In the meantime, here are some tips for speaking up and getting what you want in the office — like some of these inspiring women who set an example for every worker.
Set your intentions: who do you want to be?
Success means something different for everyone, so nailing down what goals are most important to you is key.
“One of the most important things you can do is to figure out what success means to you. Keep doing it over time- it doesn’t stay the same. Try to be as concrete about it as possible,” career and life management consultant Ruth Schimel told Ladders.
Being clear about your goals and revising them as you evolve can fuel your confidence.
Talk about your successes; don’t hide them
Recognizing your own potential for greatness can pay off.
If you can’t describe and sum up your best accomplishments, you can’t use them to your advantage, according to women’s career coach and leadership trainer Kathy Caprino. Companies are hiring you to provide skills, so staying quiet about your best work in order to look humble doesn’t give employers a good idea of what capabilities they’ll be paying you for.
Keep a list of your successes — both individually and as part of a team, to show you can collaborate with others. Then refer back to your Success List often and bring it with you when you ask for a promotion. Sometimes you may not even know you’ve done something special, so make sure to check with your boss and colleagues for feedback; you’ll learn more about yourself.
“When trying to go for a promotion, know the outcomes you yourself have created and why that matters to you,” Caprino told Ladders.
To remind yourself, refer back to that Success List of your best accomplishments and why they were important. Then you can make a stronger case about your talents to your boss, or your next employer.
Create a ‘Success List’
Women should stand up for themselves— especially when it comes to their paychecks. Leanne Meyer, director of The Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women, told Forbes that women should come prepared with the most airtight reasons why they deserve what they want.
“…You need to say, for instance, ‘I think I need a salary raise because if you look at all of the positions in my grade, and you look at the revenues I have generated, and look at the goals I have achieved…’” Meyer told Forbes.
It doesn’t hurt to have concrete examples that you can confidently talk about when bargaining with a higher-up, which is why that “Successes List” is so important.
Start asking for fame in your field
Prominence can help you achieve a lot more. Don’t be afraid to go big. Even if you don’t get exactly what you want, visibility helps you have influence. You can do that by joining industry associations, speaking on panels, networking, and sharing ideas in your field that go beyond your job.
Make yourself well-known among the names mentioned in your field, and the job offers and promotions are likely to follow.
“Put your name in to be quoted. Put your name in for a speaking engagement. What do you have to lose?” Fineman told The Huffington Post.
She added that even if you don’t get every public nod, your name is out there: “It matters to get your name in the hat, [for influencers] to then pick from later,” she said.
It’s easy to feel edged out of conversations — especially at meetings — when you are talked over or your ideas go unappreciated. Don’t sink into the well of feeling disrespected, which will slow you down with resentment in the moment. Move on to the next idea. It’s important to keep talking, and being confident about it.
Career and life management consultant Ruth Schimel told Ladders that to speak decisively, words like “just” or “maybe” sound “apologetic.” She suggested that women use lines like “I want to add…” and “I wonder what you think of…” to be more direct about their ideas.
Schimel told Ladders that when someone talks over you in a meeting, women should consider saying this: “I have something else to contribute that I think would benefit us all, so let me finish,” adding that you can even throw in a little humor.
Rhythm also matters. Speak in complete sentences and be sure to end them. It’s easy to ramble or, worse, trail off after every sentence. Crisp, clear sentences give you authority. That means not ending your thoughts with “so….” or other long pauses that leave your ideas stranded and forgotten. Give your ideas structure that supports them.
Schimel also said that creating common ground can be a solution.
“Relate things you’re saying to things someone else said—then you’re creating a bridge with the other person,” Schimel told Ladders.
Experiment and find the method of presenting your ideas that is effective for you. There are multiple ways to stick up for yourself at work. All that matters is that you do so.
Say what you mean
There is no question that men benefit from being forceful, while women are frequently penalized for it.
“Research study after research study has shown this: women are viewed more negatively than men when they are perceived as forceful—especially when it looks like they’ve lost their temper. Society doesn’t like that,” women’s career coach and leadership trainer Kathy Caprino said during a TED Talk.
She suggested that many women fear being considered “forceful” or “boastful.” But she insisted that “sharing is not bragging.”
Caprino gave Ladders a line that women can use when they want to assertively challenge the status quo.
Try saying this: “I believe in honesty and transparency, and I want to be honest here: I don’t believe in the direction we’re going in,” she said.
No matter which method you try, confidence is a great equalizer that helps both men and women get ahead. Work on building yours. It won’t smooth over every bump, but it goes a long way.
This advice can be summed up with one more pearl of wisdom that career and life management consultant Ruth Schimel shared with Ladders: “No matter how you feel, act as if you are who you want to be.”