Being a child-free woman in the workplace comes with its own set of benefits and struggles that differ for everyone. Many studies have shown millennials are shying away from starting families. We’re also seeing a spike in millennials postponing parenthood and opting for a pet. Not to mention the many issues women in the workplace encounter that could contribute to their choice to have or not have children – wage gap, vague maternity leave policies, expensive benefits, etc. We’ve previously outlined how women without children can support and empower their coworkers with children, but how can moms help out those who aren’t? Let’s break it down.Read More
Making mistakes sucks. It’s embarrassing, it’s awkward, and in the worst cases, it leads to some detrimental, unfixable problems. We’ve all heard horror stories about someone making a slight error in their work that ended up costing them their job.Read More
Earlier this week I had an interview with a woman-owned company that sells to national retailers. The owner of the company is a white woman who doesn’t have a college-degree and refers to herself as "self-made". Most of the employees are also white females. Though, scrolling through their team online, I did see several Asian males and females and a few polished white males. The recruiter who connected me to the position let me know they had just hired a Colombian man to join their international sales team — but, basically, in the office and on the website, there were no brown people.
With this context in mind, I reviewed the feedback they provided after my interview:
I got very similar feedback to this after a phone interview with another company more than a year ago, so I wanted to deeply consider this feedback. For reference, the interview with the other company was also an interview with a white woman, who owned her own business prior to taking her current role just a few months earlier. Since it was a phone interview, I don't know whether race was a part of the equation, but a simple LinkedIn query would reveal me as a black woman.
I often feel white women pride themselves on their independence, but are intimidated by that same characteristic in women of color.
Why is thriving in an independent contractor role a detriment to my future role? Because I enjoyed independence, does that mean I can't also enjoy collaboration? Getting past the initial disappointment in failing to land the role, I spoke with several friends and professional coaches who validated my feeling that this was an instance of white saviorism and white feminism.
My experience has been that white women want to support black women, but only on their terms and conditions. These white women wanted a new hire to add some diversity, but if they had the option of hiring a black woman who demonstrated a past of failures and hardships, rather than a successful black woman who was "self-made", would they have?
I shared the feedback in an email thread of close friends. A white male colleague responded briefly, “it does seem like a coded way of saying they think you’d be difficult.”
The thread was forwarded around and landed in the inbox of a white female hiring manager who thoughtfully responded with the following analysis:
This experience is different than not landing a job because you are overqualified or because you didn’t pass a personality quiz. This design director leading the interview commented that she was “wondering about how [I] would mesh with [owner of the business].”
That statement seems like an opportunity to bring me in for a second interview, to meet the owner of the company. Why wouldn't I get along with the business owner? We were both, after all, “self-made” women. Her background is in industrial design, mine is in fabrication and architecture.
The idea that I wouldn’t be a good “culture fit” and that I might be difficult to work with, after spending less than an hour with me, felt problematic. I don’t think a culture fit is something a diverse workplace is looking for — I think a cultural fit is something that the agency and the employee should mutually work toward.
Black women have historically been excluded from feminism, and it felt important for me to share this modern-day encounter with a women-owned business in this current climate of white-centered female activism and inclusive hiring practices.
This happened earlier this week — then today I interviewed with an Asian male creative director at an agency. I spoke about my experience building a direct-to-client design service over the past several years. He shared that, “many people who work here have that entrepreneurial spirit.” I’m sharing all of this to say…. As WOC in the workplace we can reclaim our power by recognizing that we are also interviewing potential employers. If your assets are being perceived as burdens or if your past experience is being perceived as intimidating, then you have to ask yourself whether that workplace is the right fit for you.
// written by Kelsi Sharp
What if you knew what your co-worker’s salary was?
More importantly, what if they were making $10,000 more, and you had both been at the same company and on the same team, and had very similar job titles? To top it off, your workloads were nearly the same for an entire year.
Would you know how to approach that conversation to ask for a raise?
If you don’t know the right questions to ask — and personally, I didn’t know for the longest time — you may end up not only feeling completely embarrassed, but more than anything, confused.
You don’t get to just walk up to your boss and say, “I’d like a raise because I know that Daniel is making $10,000 more than me and we’re doing the same job.”
Have you had weekly discussions with Daniel regarding what his work load is? If you don’t know what he’s working on, what he’s accomplished or his past experience, you may be in for a surprise.
One of the panelists talked about an instance where she received a job offer for a position similar to one her male friend held at the same organization. She asked him what salary was and she realized she was offered $10,000 less.
Of course, she asked why. They explained his education, background and experience were considered when they extended him an offer. Without skipping a beat, she connected her background to his experience and demonstrated that she was just as qualified as he was. They went through three rounds of questions and she was able to speak confidently about her qualifications and how they matched (or exceeded) his in each round.
What happened? They matched her counter.
I came away from this panel with a great deal of information. There were so many notes I could take as immediate action items — and nearly every topic covered was so powerful you could hear gasps from the crowd about once every 10 minutes.
“We tend to see our employees as competitors, not as allies. Your salary is an opportunity to go ask questions and raise concerns together.” -Adriane Brown
One thing I learned is that you should ask the company the salary range for the job. If you think that offer is too low based on conversations you’ve had with others in the same line of work, but you still really want the job, there are other ways for them to potentially match the compensation you believe you’re worth.
Any questions you aren’t comfortable asking your potential future boss, you should ask HR.
"Go to HR to ask the questions you may not be comfortable asking the hiring manager." -Sianneh Mulbah
Yes, that might be intimidating, but isn’t it worth asking?
You must be able to stand up for yourself and speak to your skills.
Additionally, if you’ve been at a company for an extended period of time and you haven’t had a raise in two years, document what you’ve done in your work that reflects how much you’ve grown in your skill set and in your role. It doesn’t have to be — nor should it be — strictly be about past work and the value you’ve added in your tenure, but rather how you see yourself continuing to develop your skills and add value to the company, your team and/or boss. Remember this part too: the company has chosen to invest in you to make sure you have the tools you need to grow and remain competitive. If you’ve been meeting the expectations of what is required of you, you know what to do.
/written by Rachel Ryan
A Note from MPLS MadWomen
We Aren’t Responsible for Closing the Gap, But Someone’s Got To
One of the most powerful things to come out of the panel were some takeaways on what we can do to help close the gap. Some were personal tips for negotiating and learning how we can ask for what we deserve. We’ve summed up some of these insights in a handy flowchart to help you know when the time is right to ask for more money. Take a look!
We also want you to know that we took Lisa Stratton’s advice to “get involved in the public policy arena to heart.” Earlier this year, we started connecting with legislators and groups like ERA Minnesota looking to do our part to get an Equal Rights Amendment passed in Minnesota. We’ll be rolling out more information on this exciting initiative in the coming months and we’ll definitely be needing your help, so keep an eye out for more on how you can join us in this important work.
As we’ve said before, mothers are truly superheroes, but sometimes, motherhood doesn’t happen for you. Maybe you’ve decided to throw your entire self into your career, you’re worried about the financial implications of children, you’ve struggled with infertility, or motherhood just simply isn’t your jam. Whatever the reason, be it simple or complex, you’re living a child-free life. But being child-free doesn’t mean we don’t want to support our child-having sisters! Here’s how we can support mothers in the workplace:Read More