There’s a lot of talk right now about wage inequality. I may ruffle some feathers by saying this, but I think women are a big reason why there’s still such a large wage gap between males and females. Why do I think this? Because most women accept the salary or wage offered without negotiating or asking for more. By doing this, they are standing in their own way, and therefore continuing to make it a difficult struggle for their daughters and granddaughters.
My grandmother was the hardest working person I’ve ever known (not just woman, but PERSON), and she knew how to value her hard work.
Let me explain…
My grandmother worked in a textile mill for a total of 54 years, 24 years beyond when most people retire. At that same time, my grandmother also worked her and my grandfather’s farm until age 91. Because my grandfather couldn’t walk very well, my grandmother did much of the legwork of running that farm.
My grandmother could pick 100 gallons of strawberries at the local strawberry patch in less than two hours, three times faster than the people there half her age. My grandmother was such a hard worker that when her shoe fell off while stooped over picking green beans in her crop, she never even stopped to put it back on. A few weeks later her sister noticed the shoe tangled up in some vines and asked her whose shoe it was. My grandmother responded casually, “Oh it’s mine. I walked out of it and just kept going.”
My grandmother was such a hard worker that on the morning she had a major stroke and was paralyzed on one side of her body, she wouldn’t let my grandfather call 911. Instead, she made him hold her up while she fixed breakfast for him with one arm. He had to sneak and call 911.
My grandmother was the hardest working person I ever knew, but there was one thing she wouldn’t do. She never would work a job for free. In fact, when she finally had no choice but to enter a nursing home at age 91, she still wanted to work. So, she asked the nursing home director for a job. She was told she could help deliver mail to the rooms, but they would not be able to pay her. She responded with, “No thank you.” My grandmother was a very giving and generous person, but she understood her value and she never gave away her skills or her ability to work.
Know Your Worth
My grandmother serves as an example to me and hopefully to other women that our skills and abilities are valuable in the workplace and the marketplace. We should not settle for compensation that’s not commensurate with our experience or the services we’re providing, nor should we settle for a compensation that’s not equal to our male counterparts. Instead, we should stand up for what we’re worth, or be willing to walk away.
If you know you’re a hard worker and you’re good at what you do, get the confidence to ask for what’s fair. Know your worth and negotiate that salary or client contract and ask for that long overdue raise or promotion. Don’t demand this kind of respect, but instead, command it. And teach your daughters and granddaughters to do the same.
Lori Bumgarner is a passion and career specialist and owner of paNASH, a Nashville-based career and life coaching service. Her career coaching services include salary negotiation strategies for both men and women. To subscribe to her newsletter and receive a complimentary Goal-Achievement Plan visit www.yourpassioninlife.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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