Although true prosperity is multi-faceted, in this post I want to talk specifically about money and not only why it’s incredibly important for women to make more, but what needs to change to close the pay gap between men and women.
The pay gap is real.
In the US alone, it’s estimated that women in 2017 earned 21% less than men. Even in the same job requiring the same experience, women earned 2% less than men.
And even more anger-inducing, women are less likely to step into leadership roles – 57% of men will step into management roles, whereas 41% of women will do the same.
I believe the issue is threefold.
One. There is still subtle discrimination and bias against women. I have lots of anecdotal evidence from my days in academia to back this up.
Two. Women have not been taught it’s ok to negotiate our pay or charge highly for our services.
Three. Women have been conditioned to believe that it’s far more important to people please and be nice. We are fearful of appearing greedy or demanding
The pay gap has real life consequences for women.
In my own life a few years ago, I was earning half the amount of money as my ex (but I was more qualified). The belief that I couldn’t make it on my own financially clouded my judgement – I stayed with him even after he had physically assaulted me.
I have heard similar stories from other women.
But the consequences don’t necessarily need to be life-threatening or dangerous to be worthy of being taken seriously.
A discrepancy in pay between the sexes inevitably means a discrepancy in choices, and since women have been fighting for the right to have equal choices – politically and socially – it is only fitting that we strive to have an equal say economically.
I believe that the most powerful way to bridge the gender pay gap is not to try and change a biased and discriminatory system, but to change how women view themselves and their capabilities.
We create our worlds from the inside out.
It’s no accident that once my clients commit themselves to creating more prosperity they end up doing just that.
But of course there are pitfalls and hurdles to navigate along the way.
The first obstacle is very often the belief that it’s not possible or ethical to make money from sharing what comes naturally.
Every single person on the planet has innate gifts and talents, but few of us believe it’s possible to fully monetize them.
My client Telma had been working in aviation for far too long. She was sick of being paid very little and sacrificing her life, joy and health. When we met, she literally couldn’t see how she could create a decent income from her passions – ayurveda and women’s health. She believed she didn’t know enough and no-one would pay her for sharing her knowledge. It was as if she was wearing blinkers. But as I messed with her thinking, she opened herself up to different possibilities. 6 months later, she had created a consulting business that she felt truly passionate about and was well on her way to booking out her services.
The second obstacle is very often the belief that more income means more sacrifice.
If we believe earning more money will interfere with our quality of lives, our relationships and our health, we hold ourselves back.
A client of mine, Jess, was terrified of getting burnt out again. She had spent years climbing the corporate ladder, only to burn out and fall hard. She desperately wanted to help women who found themselves in a similar position, but her fear of burning herself out held her back from playing full out in her new business venture – she believed that the only way to get ahead was to hustle. We worked together to do an energy audit of her life, and slowly build her life and business around energized her and brought in the revenue. Within a few months, she had found the work life balance she craved and had matched her old salary, working half the hours. I’m not convinced she’s fully let go of the guilt….
A third obstacle is always related to self-worth and a fear of rejection.
Every single one of my clients hates the idea of asking for more money, be it a pay rise or higher fees for their services. This disdain is bound up with the idea that they are not worthy of receiving money.
And added to this is a deep need to avoid the pain of being rejected at all costs – if we don’t even put ourselves forward, we never have to worry about the possibility of someone saying no to us.
But as the wonderful Byron Katie wrote – ‘you can have anything you want in life so long as you are willing to ask 1000 people for it.’
Income and impact in the world tends to exponentially soar once we’ve trained ourselves to ask for what we want over and over again, regardless of how uncomfortable it feels inside.
This is my own personal definition of prosperity, and it’s something I still find myself having to work through. Even writing this post feels edgy – the possibility of my opinion being rejected is real. And yet the alternative is to stay silent, as women have been conditioned to do for centuries. So I choose to share.
We truly create our worlds from the inside out and it is my firm belief that when women commit to creating internal shifts by changing their beliefs around what is possible for them and what they deserve, we will close the gender pay gap one powerful woman at a time.