How the Trump Presidency will further Diminish Women in the Workforce

nintchdbpict000279864760Doesn’t it seem like every step forward is a half step backward for American career women? Consider these stats. In 2016, the percentage of women CEOs working in Fortune 500 companies dropped to an all-time low of 4%, that is within 500 corporations. Of the 29 new companies that joined the Fortune 500 this year, only one has a female CEO: Mary Laschinger of paper products and distribution company Veritiv.  Ursula Burns has announced that she will retire as CEO of Xerox XRX when the company splits later this year. As the first black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, Burns’ departure is a serious loss.

Surprisingly, women CEOs are paid more than their male counterparts. This is partly due to the fact that since they are so rare they demand significantly higher pay. The eight female chief executive officers at the 100 largest companies in the U.S. earned $22 million dollars last year, compared with $14.9 million for the male CEOs. Bliss.

WomenCEOs.png

 

However one reason why women command more money is that corporations are obligated to pay a diversity premium – women still being considered as part of the diversity pool as late as the 21st century. Is that really a step forward? Of course this diversity premium only exists for upper ranking women. Most women in the private sector on average still make significantly less pay than men.Most women are in entry level or clerical jobs. And 96% of executives are still men.

What does this have to do with Trump. Well, considering he is the most powerful and presumably most influential businessman and politician in America at the moment, he is setting precedents all over the country. Consider his public attack on Megyn Kelly, Fox News moderator, wherein he claimed she had blood coming out of her eyes, out of her wherever. Let’s examine that crass statement a little more closely. Kelly is a prominent media figure and executive employee at Fox. Trumps attack had nothing to do with her argument. Instead he chose to attack her female reproductive organs, as if that carried any merit in his crude response. Had he been addressing Roger Ailes do you suppose he would have attacked his sperm count? Highly doubtful.

gettyimages-507340564_wide-14b2bdf99c518c37adb970f7517bf481584e5ca7-s900-c85Trumps refers to women as fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. He insisted a woman who was breastfeeding during one of his rallies to leave the arena, telling her she was disgusting. He stated that Cathy Fiorinas face would discourage people from voting for her (has Trump ever taken a close look at himself)? Perhaps the coup de grace for professional women happened on his reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice, when Trump quipped about a female contestant, “Must be a pretty picture, seeing you drop to your knees.  When the president of the United States has the sick audacity to  publicly stereotype women as sex objects in the work force,  imply we are ruled by our emotions since we have blood coming out of ôur wherever and make countless misogynistic comments throughout his campaign, this simply doesn’t bode well for women in corporate America.

Surely sanity will rule in professional organizations. Its leaders won’t turn to Trump as an example for how to (mis) treat its female employees, will they? Will Trumps harmless locker room talk (all in fun) prevail during corporate meetings while women shift uncomfortably in their seats? We’ve had to tolerate a lot of criticism and outright verbal abuse as we’ve struggled our way up the corporate ladder and in some organizations broken precious few glass ceilings. Will we have to act like good sports and ignore the verbal vomit that might be defended by male colleagues as locker room talk or merely reiterating (with an innocent shrug) the President after watching Fox news (pun)?

Worse, will the percentage of women hires and promotions in corporate America decrease along with women’s status and respect? Companies talk a good line about hiring without prejudice and ensuring that minorities and women are given equal opportunity. Has that been the case in your workplace? Many companies already entertain the beliefs that:

  • men are more qualified for the job (“A woman couldn’t manage our male personnel, they won’t acknowledge her authority!”);
  • They find men easier to work with (“She won’t fit into our corporate culture!”— i.e. “we’ll find it uncomfortable having our project management meetings at Hooters!”)
  • They believe women will be have issues related to pregnancy/childcare/feminine health that will prevent them from being good employees (“If we hire a woman, she’ll be out sick every month,-( bleeding from her wherever) –  and then quit in two years to have a baby!”)

You’re probably thinking that cant happen to you. Human Resources wont allow it. Too many lawsuits will result from that type of misogyny in the workforce. Consider that people said Trump wouldn’t win the election…. but he did.

How did this happen? the media has demanded about Trump’s presidential win.

How indeed.

 

 

Megyn Kelly: the Woman who Maintained her Dignity during the Onslaught by the President Elect

gop-debate-kellyOkay so Trump wasn’t president yet when he railed about Kelly’s questioning during his CNN interview. The fact that he was in the running for the presidency while doing so stuns me. How can an intelligent man be so incredibly stupid. Then again perhaps he’s not stupid so much as insane. Which further begs the question how can American be insane and stupid enough to have elected him President.

What I liked about Kelly during Trump’s idiotic defense of his frat-boy behaviour during their public interview was her reserved, dignified reaction to both Trump’s frat-boy behaviour and the audience around her. They cheered when Trump insisted he only insulted Rosie OèDonnell and not women in general. He sidestepped Kelly’s insistence that this wasn’t true by stating everyone is too politically correct. She quietly allowed for his statement that his comments about women were all in fun In other words she let Trump ramble and bury himself even further, resulting in the media emphasizing Trump’s disregard (perhaps downright misogynistic view) towards women.

Kelly didn’t argue. She had enough sense and insight to let Trump make a jackass out of himself as he so effortlessly achieves. What was disturbing however was the audience support for Trumps statements. Weren’t there any women in the audience? Did they cheer along with their male counterparts or simply stand silently by, too intimidated to react otherwise?.

There’s an example we can take away from Kelly’s interaction with Trump. Regardless of how people attack you, even in the workforce, maintain your dignity. That doesn’t mean tolerate it or allow oneself to be abused. I liked the stoicism Kelly revealed during the Trump debacle. I’ve witnessed people in public being insulted by passersby for God only knows what reason yet respond with dignity. Sting summed it up best: it takes a gentleman to suffer ignorance and smile.

It takes a gentlewoman, too.

 

Stupid Career Mistakes You Make all the Time

You’d be surprised how many women make the same mistakes at work. You’ve done them too without realizing it. Or you realize it but feel helpless to do anything about it. That’s because as females we are raised to be obedient, somewhat passivesomewhat passive, and above all, nice to people. As a result when we become women we carry those feminine qualities into the workplace with us and our careers suffer for it.

There will always be a few negative truisms involving gender in the workplace because that’s how women and men operate at work. This video about avoiding gender stereotyping at work was made in the 1950s. It’s an exaggeration but women still face some of this prejudice today. :

  1. Men make thousands more a year than women for the same job.
    That’s because we underestimate our worth and accept  less salary
    for the same job as a man.
  2. Men make up to $16,000.00 more a year than women in the same role.
  3. There are very few women CEOs.
  4. The Old Boys Network will never go away.
  5. Women are promoted less often and often they hit the glass ceiling
    in middle management.

Here are some of the ways women sabotage themselves at work:

  1. We work for free.
  2. We don’t ask questions in case we sound stupid
  3. Women need to be liked. This is a fallacy. Look at  Sandra Bullock’s
    character in The Proposal. She is an  uber bitch and
    she was the most successful employee in her department.
  4. Not recognizing that your unique character and female traits
    are necessary at your workplace. You don’t have to go to the
    other extreme and act like a man to get ahead.
  5. Trying to be one of the Boys in order to penetrate (pun) the Old
    Boys Network. It won’t work. And you’ll look pathetic.
  6. Being too honest. That refers to revealing information about
    yourself and your company to anyone outside the company. Once
    I saw a woman on television complaining about the low salary she
    made working for Panasonic. The next day, she was fired. Idiot.
  7. We’re too competitive with other women.Professional friendships
    among women can lead to improvement in office politics.

There are many strengths in being a woman in the office. Once you expect more of the people around you and establish boundaries, it’s easier to reach your career goals and earn respect. It’s best to keep sex out of the office. Save details about your sex life, bawdy sex jokes and affairs for after hours with someone else.

It’s difficult to change how you feel about yourself, in your private life and at work. But if you don’t change your behaviours, your career will go nowhere. Make sure you announce your achievements at meetings, approach the boss about promotional opportunities, establish boundaries such as saying “no” now and then, and recognizing that your work isn’t enough to help you get ahead at work.

 

Avoid Career Change Mistakes

Career change is scary enough without making the many errors emphasized in the video. Of course our little heroine also made sensible choices too. Odds are you will do the same – make good choices and bad choices. However getting the heads-up on both might save you from making as many mistakes as you’d make without learning about these tidbits.

  1. Know why you want to change career paths. Make sure it’s not the job
    you don’t like or the corporate culture. That’s entirely different.
  2. Don’t make a move solely for money. It’s not going to be worth it. You
    could end up in a worse position in terms of your enjoyment of the
    career.
  3. It’s a little “iffy” about speaking to people you know (except your mentor)
    about what they think of the career path you are interested in, especially if
    they are employed in that industry. Many people are pretty jaded after
    enough years in a field because they’re thinking about their own mistakes,
    corporate culture, changing financial situations and more. They won’t
    mention these things to you.
  4. You need a career change plan. It’s ridiculously risky to quit and not have a
    plan in place. It could take several months or even a year before you can
    actually make the move.
  5. Make sure you can pay all your bills for 3 – 6 months before you leave your
    current job.
  6. Investigate the type of work that companies value. There’s no point in
    going into a career path that isn’t needed.
  7. Do speak to your mentor about your new career interests.
  8. Change mentors and find someone in your prospective field.
  9. Cultivate a new network.
  10. Search places other than job boards to find available jobs.

Signs You are About to be Fired

There were 23 signs in that video that our sorrowful subject was going to be fired. Can you recognize them all? (Hint: if you did you should be job hunting):

  1. You’ve been excluded from meetings.
  2. You aren’t getting departmental emails.
  3. You can’t access data you need to do your work.
  4. You are being overloaded with assignments to set you up to fail
  5. There is tension between you and your boss.
  6. Your colleagues don’t talk to you anymore.
  7. You are excluded from conferences.
  8. The boss is micro-managing you.
  9. Your budget has been cut back.
  10. You get a poor performance review.
  11. You get warned about your work performance.
  12. The boss begins a paper trail between you and her.
  13. You aren’t getting a raise.
  14. You have to take a pay cut. My boss’s wife recently had a $30,000.00
    pay cut. Ouch. I suspect she is on her way out. Stay tuned for an update.
  15. Your accomplishments are ignored.
  16. You are reporting to new people.
  17. You have to report to your subordinates.
  18. There is going to be a merger. This is always bad news. Always.
  19. Your work area is reduced. Did you see the film Office Space where an
    undermined employee named Milton is removed from his cubicle and
    re-assigned to the basement?
  20. You find a job posting that matches your job.
  21. The confidential project you are assigned isn’t relevant. Did you see the
    Pixar animation “UP?” There was a short follow-up to the film called
    Doug’s Special Mission.” The adventure was assigned to Doug to keep him out
    of everyone’s way. Of course he had no idea.
  22. You  are sent for re-training.
  23. You need an attitude adjustment. This is especially worrisome for a woman
    at work. It’s more acceptable in a man.

I didn’t include you making a major mistake that costs the company a lot of money. Oops.

Whether you actually understand why you are being downsized, fired, or laid off, when dismissal is in the air it’s pointless to fight it. Move as soon as you sense it. Approach management and ask them if you are reading them right. Then get to work on your resume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s unlikely that all of those things would happen to a person or she wouldn’t be employed for too long. It’s easy to miss many of those signs. Some people are downright shocked when they get the dreaded pink slip. That’s also when many employees – especially women – find it difficult to negotiate a good severance package. That’s another blog entirely.

At some point in time you will probably see the signs at a certain company where your job is on the line for any number of reasons. Knowing ahead of time what those signs are might be a chance for you to get an edge on management. As soon as you feel the squeeze it’s time to get your resume together and contact your network for leads.

Even if the signs are few and subtle, it’s best to get moving. It can take up to six months to get a new job. And unless you have a financial safety net, you’ll feel the pinch in a hurry.

 

 

 

Negotiation is Over-Rated

Yes you read that right. Negotiation is ambiguous when you are a woman. Some women are an exception. They are very assertive, know what they want and refuse to settle for less. They are also very valuable to a company, have more than proven their worth and so are on solid ground when they negotiate. Most of us cannot say that.

In fact, I’m thinking of successful women I have heard about who are very high in companies they work for or who are entrepreneurs. I know of one who is a ridiculously successful entrepreneur. I know another woman who is working for a prestigious radio station and has a great job. It sounded enviable until about a month ago when she had to take a $30,000.00 pay-cut if she wanted to keep her job. So much for her negotiation power.

The business world will always be an old boys’ network and you will never be a part of it. Accept it. Here’s one example: When men negotiate they are seen as powerful; women are seen as too demanding. However not negotiating salary is akin to not telling your doctor your symptoms then expecting the medical treatment you need in order to survive. When you must negotiate it’s best to keep a couple of things in mind:

Don’t negotiate salary until you have a job offer in writing. Let’s say the job pays a salary and a performance bonus, but you don’t know about the bonus part. If you do not get a written offer specifying the pay elements before you start negotiating, then you might negotiate a higher base salary but lose a portion of your bonus. That’s because the bonus gives your hiring manager some “wiggle room.” 

Figure out your own needs first. You might not get the salary you hoped for but maybe there are compensations, such as working at home or more vacation time or sick days, or some such thing.

Don’t use salary negotiation to lecture the recruiter about women’s rights. This already suggests you won’t be a good fit with the company. And believe it or not, men recruiters often don’t know they are sexist. Seriously  Doesn’t that make you so irritated? And that’s another thing women don’t do well when negotiating; we bring emotions into our salary talks. Bad move. Remaining absolutely professional in body, mind and spirit is key if you’re going to be at your most effective.

Which is another blog entirely.

 

 

 

How to Get your Old Job back when You’ve been Fired

 

There are some decent suggestions in that animation but I must elaborate a little. When you’ve been fired it’s not easy to return to your old job. The first thing you must do is to investigate whether your company had the legal right to dismiss you. Here’s a unique example of an organization really dropping the ball on that one.

When I worked for the Peel Regional Police in Brampton, Ontario, there was a supervisor and an intake caller in the 9-1-1 department who received an odd call from a young woman who wanted the 9-1-1 operator to send a car around to pick her up and drive her home. She had no cab fare and she was rather out in the middle of nowhere. The operator thought that was rather odd so she asked her supervisor what she should do.

Naturally the supervisor told the operator not to even entertain the idea of providing a personal taxi service for the public so the answer was no. A couple of weeks later both employees were fired. I don’t know why or under which policy but they were outta there. Both women sued and got their jobs back; an immediate payout of their annual salary; and of course their regular, ongoing salary. Now that’s what you call a wrongful dismissal triumph.

Suppose your company had legal grounds for dismissal. Ask yourself why you want your job back – is it strictly financial? Are you running low on funds and are in a panic? If you think about the reasons why you were let go in the first place, does this suggest to you that maybe this position isn’t for you? If there were extenuating circumstances and you don’t believe that to be the case, then it probably is a good move to return to your job.

Having made that decision, you will have to arm yourself with documentation proving how valuable you are to your former company. If you made significant profits for your corporation, have the documentation to prove it. If you improved employee relations, prove that. Anything you did that was highly beneficial to the organization is mandatory if you think you’re getting re-hired. Be prepared to make a very convincing argument and to answer a lot of questions by your former employer as to how you can continue to benefit the company should she allow you to return.

Above all, be prepared to hear no. It may have nothing to do with your work performance. The company might want a new person so it can move in a new direction. Or your position may have already been filled. That can be very defeating but it’s reality.

Should that be the case, make sure you have solid references when you get out there and continue your roster of interviews.