“Five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap”, With Elizabeth Pearson

The more confident and assertive women present themselves, the easier it will be to ask for what they need — and the less they’ll care about being “unlikable” to their boss. As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Pearson . […]

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The more confident and assertive women present themselves, the easier it will be to ask for what they need — and the less they’ll care about being “unlikable” to their boss.

As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Pearson . Elizabeth is a professional life coach, spiritual seeker, writer, wife, and mother. Elizabeth specializes in getting women “unstuck” so they can achieve their highest goals in all aspects of life. Throughout her 15-year sales career, Elizabeth has worked for brands such as VitaminWater and Coca-Cola, as well as managing accounts for Amazon, Target, Whole Foods and others. During her sales career, Elizabeth discovered her true passion in life — Being of service to other women.

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

I started out as a young and hungry sales rep for a scrappy startup — VitaminWater. I was an intern for the company during college and, after graduation, promptly moved from St. Louis to Chicago after accepting a full-time position with the company. I loved my new city, the company I worked for — my exciting life.

After the company was acquired by Coca Cola for $4BB, I sharpened my corporate sales skills by managing national accounts for Coke. I got to travel, eat at fabulous restaurants, and network with heavy hitters in the field. At this point, I was happily married and ready to do the next logical step (or so we’re told), move to the suburbs and start popping out babies. I was always an overachieving rule follower, so I bought the big house, had the kids and climbed the corporate ladder.

Then one day, after a yoga class, I began crying for reasons unbeknown to me. Looking back, I can now admit I must have been having some sort of spiritual breakdown or breakthrough. Something deep inside of me was urging me to take some risks — Go for the gold, do more with my life than settle deeper into my comfort zone.

That moment was the catalyst to my exploration of all things self-help, both spiritual and empowering. I followed my passion for helping other women and began coaching. Fast forward 3 years later, my husband and I moved our kids across the country to sunny southern California, I own my own thriving coaching business, am writing my first book — Life is good.

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

The most interesting thing that’s happened is how many times I’ve been blindsided with self-doubt. I knew there would be bumps in the road to entrepreneurship, but I always saw myself as a confident person. This journey to starting anew in so many areas of my life has destroyed all the armor I thought I had. I have days when I’m sobbing with regret for walking away from my lucrative sales career, and I’ve had days where I’m sobbing with gratitude for my new life. The ups and downs are way more intense than I could have ever predicted.

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?

The most interesting/cringeworthy mistake I made when I first started was not really listening to my clients. I used to coach from an “I know what’s best, just take my advice and you’ll be good” mentality. A good coach does the opposite. An effective coach listens and looks for underlying messages or emotions from their client. Thank goodness I figured that out sooner rather than later, or I wouldn’t have a successful business today.

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?

1. Women not asking for more

No one will give you what you don’t ask for — so if a woman wants more money, more responsivity, a higher-ranking title, we need to start asking or demanding it from our employers. According to a survey published by Glassdoor, “Women negotiated less than their male counterparts. Sixty-eight percent of women accepted the salary they were offered and did not negotiate, a 16-percentage point difference when compared to men (52%).”

Some factors as to why women forgo the opportunity to negotiate their salaries stems from a lack of confidence — They doubt they’re qualified enough for a promotion or deserve a raise.

Another factor may be what’s commonly called the “social cost” of negotiation — women feeling awkward or greedy when asking for more money. Men don’t seem to have this hang up though, therefore it’s critical to avoid this costly mistake if we have any hopes of closing the wage gap.

A great option to feel more comfortable negotiating is to list out and quantify everything you bring to the organization. When women see the financial value they bring, it’s much easier to ask for a bump in their salary. Another great option is to take an online course on how to negotiate, as there are a ton of them available now.

2. Employer Bias

Many companies have a conscious or unconscious bias towards women which becomes evident when they overlook or undervalue the work their female employees do.

There is a reason to feel hopeful though, a recent Glassdoor study found that “Based on over 425,000 salaries shared by full-time U.S. employees, men earn 21.4 percent higher base pay than women on average (or women earn 79 cents per dollar men earn). However, comparing workers of similar age, education, and experience shrinks the gap to 19.1 percent. Furthermore, after comparing workers with the same job title, employer and location, the gender pay gap in the U.S. falls to 4.9 percent (95.1 cents per dollar).”

3. The Motherhood Penalty

Research shows that many mothers encounter some workplace-related backlash after having a child — although it may be subtle. When compared to childless or male colleagues, moms can be viewed as being less committed and face higher expectations to prove their commitment to the company while receiving less consideration for a promotion. Some studies show the pay gap between mothers and childless women as an even larger gap than the one between men and women that gets the most attention. Moms earn approximately 7% less per child than childless women.

There’s a financial cost of being a stay at home mom — Stay home, and you miss out on opportunities to earn and build wealth. The opposite is true for men because new fathers typically see earnings increase after their child is born. Why? Because it signals stability to the organization and that they are less of a flight risk if they are seen as having a heavier financial responsibility.

How do we start to fix this problem? Give mothers access to affordable, good quality daycare and give men the same 12-weeks of use-it-or-lose-it paternity leave that women get.

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

The joy of my life is helping women get reacquainted with their power — it never goes away, but sometimes it gets ignored for a few years. I encourage women to see their potential for the life they want to live, and then we take massive action to help them attain their goals, many of which are financial. By encouraging more women to take their seat at the proverbial table, we will have more women dictating wages and, hopefully, we can then finally close the wage gap.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap?

The progress that is being made is encouraging, however we’ll need these 5 things to happen to close the gap:

1. Sustained action from businesses.

Equal paternity leave for new dads so they can carry more childcare weight and free-up moms to go back to work.

2. Government support.

Affordable childcare for new and single mothers is critical to ensuring women return to the workforce.

3. Awareness of biases.

Companies will need to take a good look in the mirror, and at their payroll, to see if there may be underlying biases and sexism happening within their organizations.

4. Women becoming skilled negotiators.

The more confident and assertive women present themselves, the easier it will be to ask for what they need — and the less they’ll care about being “unlikable” to their boss.

5. Parents overriding socialized norms for girls to be people pleasers and nurturing.

When we empower our youth to see girls as equals, we raise men and women who expect to pay women at the same level as men.

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.

The movement I’d love to see happen is a “Care Less” Movement.

Care less about what others think of you.

Care less about fitting in.

Care less about doing things that you don’t enjoy.

Care less what your parents and siblings think of your choices.

Be Happy. Do what you want to do.

Your only purpose in life is to be happy. Care more about that and less about everything else.

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

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” — Dr. Wayne Dyer

When clients seek out my help, they’re usually feeling somewhat powerless in an area of their life — Some are even miserable in a “toxic” work environment. I always recommend that they use those feelings as a catalyst for change and improvement of the situation. Complaining about it will only keep it in your vibration and therefore in your reality. When you make a choice to be grateful for everything — well, that’s when the magic of transformation happens.

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?

I’d love to have met the mentor-in-my-head, Dr. Wayne Dyer. His books and lectures have been a game-changer for me, and I feel he was way ahead of his time. I’d love to have some thick pancakes and a great cappuccino and talk to him about the meaning of life — a topic which I’m sure he has all the answers. Oh, and if we could snag a 3-top, of course I’d want Beyoncé there.

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