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“Allow salary information to be shared” with Shanna Hocking and Candice Georgiadis

Allow salary information to be shared — Many companies require employees to keep salary information confidential and they can penalize employees for speaking openly about their salaries, which limits women’s ability to understand when there are parity issues. One respected leader in my field told me her actual salary figure to give me a sense […]

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Allow salary information to be shared — Many companies require employees to keep salary information confidential and they can penalize employees for speaking openly about their salaries, which limits women’s ability to understand when there are parity issues. One respected leader in my field told me her actual salary figure to give me a sense of what the market offers. Even more than the number, her candor made quite an impression on me. She told me: “We all rise together as women.” In turn, I have shared this with other women I have mentored through salary negotiations to help prepare them with the information they need to be successful.

Aspart of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Shanna Hocking. Shanna is the Associate Vice President, Individual Giving at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, providing strategic leadership and direction to a team of 35+ across annual, major, planned, principal, and international giving. Previously, Shanna was the Senior Director of Major and Planned Gifts at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she led the major and planned gifts program, and served as a senior fundraiser for the institution, engaging alumni primarily in New York City and London. In addition, she developed and directed Wharton Women in Leadership, an initiative to engage senior executive alumnae as volunteer and philanthropic leaders with the School. She previously worked in development at The University of Alabama, Duke University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. Shanna frequently speaks, writes, and serves as a podcast guest on the topics of leadership, fundraising and career development. She has been published on Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Career Contessa, Forbes, and Motherly. Shanna’s expertise has been featured in the Harvard Business Review and Thrive Global. Shanna received a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University and a B.A. in Modern Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

At18, I knew I wanted to have a career in fundraising. I staffed an event for my alma mater where a donor honored his mentor with a gift to the university and I knew then I wanted to help create these opportunities to transform ideas, people, and places through philanthropy. I started as a development intern in college in the regional office for my alma mater. Over the last 18 years, I built a career in higher education fundraising and transitioned two years ago to academic medicine fundraising. Today I am the Associate Vice President, Individual Giving at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and I am also a speaker, writer, and podcast guest on the topics of leadership, fundraising, and career development.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

One of the most wonderful things about fundraising is that my career is all about people’s stories — what motivates them, what they want their legacy to be. I have been privileged to meet many wonderful people, including celebrities. It has been especially joyful to meet many book authors who have inspired and influenced me, both in my work and in my own writing.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early in my career, I had a big first meeting with a donor who had capacity to make a significant gift to the institution. After 10 minutes, he asked, “What can I do for you?” His candor caught me off guard. I mumbled something about being grateful for his time and that we hoped to get him more involved. He gave me the opening and I hesitated. Because I was afraid to ask, I missed an opportunity. I could have let that experience intimidate me; in this instance, it could have changed my career path. Instead I realized asking itself was my opportunity to serve others. Many years later, I coach every new gift officer I work with to anticipate and respond to this question. By being vulnerable about my own mistakes and teaching my staff to be prepared, I channeled fear into positively supporting others.

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

The gender wage gap is complex and the result of many factors. I would suggest that three of the factors are: some male-dominated occupations pay significantly more than industries or roles that mostly employ women; women are expected to behave differently when it comes to certain work behaviors, such as salary negotiations; and bias against working mothers. Recent research studies from Princeton and Harvard, on women around the world and in America, have both shown there is a “motherhood penalty” — women earn less after the birth of their first child.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

As an individual, I coach women to prepare for salary negotiations, I write and speak about the importance of women being able to ask for what they want, and I spend time considering the role that unconscious bias plays in hiring and negotiation.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Promote women’s financial security — Women need additional training on salary negotiations (that account for bias against women). Many organizations have started to offer coaching for women, but they are not broadly available. In addition to understanding how to ask for a raise or negotiate a salary, women could also benefit from money management training, which has historically been something that men were expected to do.

2. Eliminate the motherhood penalty — Women are perceived to be less committed to their jobs when they have children. This bias, in addition to the significant challenges in managing a successful career and home life, can contribute to why working mothers choose to leave the traditional workforce. I have experienced this bias throughout my career, once being told in an interview that I wouldn’t be recommended for the role, because I had a family at home — not because I didn’t have the requisite experience or potential to lead.

3. Consider salary transparency — This can mean many different things, whether publicly posting all salaries, being forthcoming about salary information in interviews, or committing to pay men and women equally. Many states no longer allow employers to request previous salary history, which has historically contributed to the gender wage gap.

4. Allow salary information to be shared — Many companies require employees to keep salary information confidential and they can penalize employees for speaking openly about their salaries, which limits women’s ability to understand when there are parity issues. One respected leader in my field told me her actual salary figure to give me a sense of what the market offers. Even more than the number, her candor made quite an impression on me. She told me: “We all rise together as women.” In turn, I have shared this with other women I have mentored through salary negotiations to help prepare them with the information they need to be successful.

5. Create affordable childcare options — When a family has to make a choice between paying the cost of childcare or staying home to care for children, this can affect the ability for parents to contribute financially to the family or advance their careers. This isn’t a women’s issue, but caregiving responsibilities have often fallen to women.

Unfortunately, it is not likely that the gender wage gap will disappear any time soon. These are suggested efforts to help us get closer to our goals. For there to be any significant changes, many of these efforts would have to be done together, rather than considering any one on its own.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My goal is to inspire a movement to “Be yourself boldly” — intentionally putting your truest, best self out there, because the world needs you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Women, in particular, often credit their success to “luck”. Saying that things occur solely by chance discredits the role you play in making magic happen. You worked hard to get where you are and you should proudly share that with others. I think about this often in terms of how I can best be prepared. Most importantly, when the door is open, will you walk through? Recognizing opportunity takes courage.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d love to have lunch with Amy Nelson, Founder and CEO, The Riveter. I admire her commitment to helping women be successful at work, her own efforts to reduce the gender wage gap, and scaling the “maternal wall”, as she calls it.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

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