Contributors: Mackenzie Fluharty & Katherine Lauer
March 8th is a day dedicated to celebrating women across the globe and the social, financial, cultural, and political achievements we have made over the decades. It is a day for everyone – regardless of gender, race or nationality – to celebrate women. The inaugural International Women’s Day was established in 1911 to raise awareness to the injustices of pay inequality, lack of voting rights, violence and an exhaustive feeling of being overworked without recognition. While we may have come a long way, we still have a way to go! The future looks bright if we stand together and uplift and encourage each other to live a life filled with endless possibility.
Like many, we work in a career (investment management) where women are about 50% of the workforce, but less than 10% of leadership. If we are to truly change those numbers, we need to change our thinking. We have outlined a few ideas as to best practices we have learned from the successful women we work with as our clients.
Social. Make an effort to get involved with women who have been successful in their careers. Use any chance you get to talk with these women about the real issues taking up space in your mind. When a senior female colleague reaches out to you to grab a cup of coffee or lunch, always accept the invitation. Take advantage of their outreach and carve out time to meet in person and have an open dialog – you will probably find you share a lot of common ground and can create a partnership to benefit both of you professionally and personally. Become a great listener and learner, then become a great coach. If you do not have a mentor or senior executive where you work, look elsewhere. In our community we have groups like SWFL Women in Investment Management, Collier County Women’s Bar Association, Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), and the National Association of Women Business Owners (just to name a few) that encourage women to have open ended conversations, find mentors, and advance professionally. If your community does not have a women focused professional group, create one, or start a local chapter of a national association. Use the power of social media to connect with women and create a new dialog within your community.
Financial. Thanks to organizations like the National Committee on Pay Equity, the gender pay gap is no longer a secret. Facts show that women still make less for the same job as men. According to American Association of University Women it will take women until March 24, 2022 to earn as much as a male did in the calendar year 2021. Research what the average pay for a similar position in your area is. This is a strong tool, as you can see if you are being paid fairly. Review your qualifications and experience in regard to the position you hold – if you are making below the average, talk to your human resources department, and show them what others with similar positions are paid. If you think you should be making above average, again, show them why. Take advantage of all company benefits. Learn how to maximize the financial benefits offered by your company; and take the time to understand not only those offerings but what you are currently paying for. Ask if your company has an employer sponsored retirement plan. If your budget allows, enroll in the plan and save as much as you can to earn the employer match – if one is offered by your company. If your company does not offer a retirement plan, speak with your Tax Advisor to see if starting your own retirement plan, like an Individual Retirement Account, can help lighten your yearly payments to Uncle Sam. Ask whether your company has a healthcare plan that you are eligible to participate in. Group healthcare plans typically have more budget friendly monthly premiums vs. obtaining these benefits on your own. The final item you should review with HR would be your voluntary benefits. Many companies offer life insurance, pet insurance, dental or vision insurance, disability insurance, student loan repayment, tuition reimbursement, caregiver leave and family leave & family planning benefits. Taking advantage of your company wide benefits that are applicable to your personal situation can help increase your paycheck without having to wait on the potential of a raise or bonus at year end. If your company does not offer benefits, this may be a great moment for you to join a company employee advocacy board and campaign for a change to your current policies – studies show the majority of employees want to work for companies that offer a wide range of employee benefits.
Cultural. In 2019, LinkedIn published their Gender Insights Report. According to the report, men will apply for a position if they feel they have 60% of the qualifications, while women will only apply if they feel they meet 100% of the job description. Let’s #BreakTheBias, as women, and raise our hands to any and all opportunities that will help advance our career. As businesses grow, new opportunities to step forward should arise. Do not lean in, step forward and raise your hand like we did in school when we wanted to be recognized by the teacher. If you need help, do not be afraid to ask a member of the management team for guidance. Most leaders are happy to help employees that want to hear and act on their advice. Seek out training opportunities that are relative to your career advancement and discuss attending training events with your managing team. When there is an opportunity for advancement, speak directly with the manager about your candidacy for the opening. Our own voice and advocacy can open so many doors that are already available. Someone just needs to hear it!
Political. In 1917, Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress, representing the state of Montana. Flash forward to 2022, we have women representing 24 seats in the US Senate, 121 seats in the US House of Representatives, 4 US Delegate positions and the current Vice President of the United States. These women are taking an active stance to hear the challenges we face professionally, economically, socially, and culturally, to create relevant legislation to help #BreakTheBias and build gender equality. Take a moment to write your city, county, state, or national Female Political Representatives a note to express your concerns, provide praise for milestones that they helped achieve, or simply a kind thank you for leading a life of service for their constituents.
It is not easy when you may be the only female at the table – it is not easy to even take a seat at the table regardless of who is present. Culturally we as women are not accustomed to advocating for ourselves as we have spent our lives advocating for others. We are more comfortable giving guidance than asking for it. At the end of the day, it is not always easy to be a woman in a workplace still dominated by men. We have never asked for it to be easy, just fair! So today March 8th, International Women’s Day let’s take a moment to celebrate how far women have come and together how far we will go. Let’s lift each other up, support each other’s wildest dreams and live the life we were all supposed to live. We wish you all the success in the world.
Happy International Women’s Day!
The High Net Worth Advisory Group, LLC is registered as an investment adviser and only conducts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded from registration requirements. Registration is not an endorsement of the firm by securities regulators and does not mean the adviser has achieved a specific level of skill or ability. This is not a legal or financial recommendation and should be used for informational purposes only.