Best Companies for Women Lists Miss The Mark

I do not agree with any of the Best Companies for Women to Work Lists that I have found.  Some of the lists that I disagree with are:

Each of these list are created by organizations with great business perspective.  Each list has its own methodology to decide the companies. The methodology may differ for each but often there is a very long questionnaire for the companies to submit.  The number of questions is typically greater than 200.   Yet regardless of the selection method, none of the lists consider companies’ gender pay gaps. To me that seems a bit on par with “But how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

From my perspective the main reason we work (male or female) is to earn money. If you agree with that premise than shouldn’t the first criteria for a Good Company for Women be how the women are paid?  The Gender Pay Gap is alive and kicking and yet we give praise to companies that may be paying women at a rate lower than men.

Earning Equal Pay May Not Be A Priority

The fact that we cannot answer whether a company is paying women on par with men highlights one reason women have not made more progress in the nearly 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act.  To our own detriment, women consider the financial aspect of a job as a secondary or tertiary factor in the job. We are blinded by the less expensive alternatives to equal pay such as a mentor program or telecommuting or flextime.  All these benefits are great and I highly recommend them but I don’t recommend having them instead of equal pay.

A statement in Working Mother’s 2011 report, Career vs. Paycheck: The Working Mother Report illustrates the fact. 

     Moms surveyed say that a flexible schedule is trumped only by stability and security when they look for a new job.

Pay does not even make the top three priorities of a job considered by working mothers based on Working Mother’s research.   Is there a term for 4th level consideration?  Pay isn’t secondary or tertiary.  Pay is a quartic priority!   It becomes even more unexpected when you consider 38% of working mothers are the primary wage earners for their family.  I too like having a career instead of working for a paycheck yet there must be a way to marry the benefits of the two.

Back to the Best Companies for Women Lists

Companies work hard to get on these lists.  As mentioned before, many companies want to get on such lists and welcome the vetting process to get on the lists. They openly strive to attract women employees.   How much emphasis do you think a company will put on equal pay if companies who work hard to attract women do not have to indicate they are paying women equally?  To be clear, I am not stating that each company is or isn’t paying fairly.  I’m stating that we do not know.  I’m stating that we are not reinforcing the requirement of equal pay as a base line of acceptability.

Somewhere there are companies that pay women on par with men AND have some kick-ass benefits as well.  I challenge the next group of Best Lists to incorporate equal pay as an important element of the vetting process.    Perhaps if the lists highlight equitable pay then women and companies will move equal pay up the priority list.

@ Copyright 2012 by Katie Donovan

The Working Woman’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

The New Year arrives this weekend and with it will be New Resolutions.   Or maybe your resolutions will be repeats of classics that you make annually.  Does exercise more, eat better, read more, save more money, or learn a new hobby sound familiar?  You are not alone!  I know I will have a repeat in my personal resolutions.

What about making a business resolution this year?  This is often a forgotten aspect of our life when it comes to resolutions.  I thought I would help jumpstart you with a baker’s dozen suggested resolutions that I believe are critical to career management and confidence to successfully negotiate higher salaries.

In 2012 resolve to:

  1. Know the market value of your job.  This knowledge is eye opening and empowering to many women.
  2. Develop a relationship with a mentor.  Having multiple mentors is optimal but aim to get your first this year.  Mentors should be both women and men and work within and outside your company. A good mentor has more experience than you and will advise you as you move through your career.
  3. Develop a relationship with a sponsor.  A sponsor is someone who has clout within your company or industry and will actively recommend and endorse you to others. Like mentors, it’s best to have more than one.
  4. Mentor another woman. Remember to share the wealth as you learn and develop clout of your own.
  5. Think of and communicate your contributions to the company in terms of accomplishments and financial impact.  You need to think like a manager to manage your career. Managers don’t really care about effort.  Their focus is results as should yours.
  6. Network with people in your company who do not work in the same department.  The best advice I got in my first job was to be friendly with the people in accounting because you never know when you will need their help.  I’ve taken that advice a step further.  Become friendly with people in all departments.  Each department has a unique perspective of what’s happening in a company.  Being able to see from these various perspectives is amazingly helpful regardless of what your job is.  Plus you may find a different department is a better fit for your interests and abilities.  Having friends who welcome you to a position within a company is a great plus.
  7. Network with people in your industry.  The issues of your company may or may not be the issues of the industry.  You may work for the best of the best and network to find future employees.  You may discover other companies are better fits for your personality and abilities.  Knowing the big picture and people outside of your company will help keep you stay marketable and ready to change when you want or are forced to look for a change.
  8. Jump on the digital bandwagon and network online.  LinkedIn is the leading online business-networking site.  Create your profile and connect to people you already know.  Then get bold and join a group.  Ask or answer a question.  Then you will be ready to ask people that you want to know to connect with you.  Spend about 15 minutes a week on LinkedIn and  you will soon find yourself using it time and time again to find a new partner, employee, vendor, advisor, and/or employer.
  9. Accept praise from management.  If you don’t already, learn to just say “thank you” when someone gives you praise.  Do not diminish the praise by downplaying your accomplishment.    How can you later play up the same accomplishments to get a raise if you continually downplay them when management gives you a “Atta Girl”?
  10. Know what you want the next step in you career to be.  We all need to grow and change things from time to time.  Regardless what your job is today, it will most likely not be the same job in 3-5 years.  Start thinking about what you would like to do next.  Thinking about it sooner than later helps you think about what you need to do to get to the next stage of your career.
  11. Tell management what you want the next step of your career to be.  Just as important as you knowing what you want to do next is to let management know.  They can help you accomplish the next move within the company.
  12. Negotiate your next starting salary or raise.  You are underpaid if you did not negotiate your salary so next time start to rectify the problem by negotiating your salary.
  13. Be nicer to yourself.  There is a tendency for many people to be their own worst critic.  Try to cut yourself some slack this year.  Allow yourself to make mistakes.  Learn from them but don’t beat yourself up after a mistake.

Each of the resolutions will take time to accomplish and will have missteps along the way.  Should you decide to undertake any of these, be kind to yourself as you work through it.  The goal of all these resolutions is not to make a perfect you.  It’s to improve your well being in the work world.

Happy New Year and Happy Career!