How the Silence Breakers Changed the Money Game (and How You Can Too!)

I had to write about this topic even though I knew I wouldn’t start my blog until 2018. It’s Wednesday, December 6, 2017.

This morning TIME Magazine announced their 2017 Person of the Year. The chosen…all of the women (and men) who came forward this past year to confront perpetrators of sexual harassment and violence.

The individuals on the front cover include actress Ashley Judd, who was first to come out on the record against the big-time movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Singer, songwriter and one of my favorite pop stars, Taylor Swift who sued, and won, against a former radio jockey after he groped her while taking a photo. She asked for one dollar as payment in order to further emphasize the suit was based on principle.

Susan Fowler, former Uber engineer who wrote a telling op-ed about the toxic, harassment-filled culture at the company, which then ultimately led to the CEO’s resignation, and the multibillion-dollar startup to oust at least 20 other employees.

Adama Iwu, a California lobbyist who organized a letter signed by more than 140 women that says sexual harassment is pervasive in the Capitol.

And Isabel Pascual, a strawberry picker from California who was one of many to take to the streets of California to join stars and civilians alike in their march against the abusive behavior.

Additionally, a woman’s arm is pictured in the bottom right corner to represent many women who still feel afraid or unable to come forward on the record.

Most of us can get on board the fact that sexual harassment and violence against women is unacceptable. What I wanted to touch on and what I think it very important, is the idea that many women, at some point in their lives, will be taken advantage of by a man because he has a higher pay grade than they do.

In most industries men run the show. They sign the paychecks and women smile politely and follow along.

All of the men that have been recently accused of everything from inappropriate harassment to rape, had a powerful position in their field. They were the star of the morning news show, the head of a television network, they ran the Hollywood movie scene, were prominent figures on Capitol Hill, and even became the freakin’ president of the United States.

They were paid multi-millions of dollars in their job. I mean Bill O’Reilly even got paid 25 million dollars just to leave Fox News! Roger Ailes got 40 million (barf).

That is why it is especially important for women to support each other as they elevate into higher positions of both power and wealth. Barack Obama recently made a plea at a closed-door event in Paris, to elect more women to leadership.

“We need to focus more on putting women in power because men seem to be having a problem these days. Not to generalize but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialization.”

A 2017 Women in the Workplace Study by McKinsey found that only one in five C-suite leaders are women, and fewer than one in 30 is a woman of color. Women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than men at the entry-level to manager phase. However, if entry-level women were promoted at the same rate, the number of women in senior vice president and C-suite roles would more than double.

Women of color face even greater challenges by not being exposed enough to leadership, and they face a lack of support from their managers. Additionally, McKinsey also found that 50 percent of men think women are well represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders are women.

Men are also less committed to gender-diversity efforts…shocker, I know.

So here’s a question….

Are you supporting your fellow females in work? Are you hiring women (if you are in a position to do so)?

If you aren’t, then are you showing support to female colleagues through praise, offering advice, or emotional support through tough times? Are you encouraging men in your workplace to do the same?

I challenge you to ask a female colleague to lunch this week to discuss your career. Ask what she can do to help you and what you can do to help her.

Also, keep in mind that there are plenty of resources and support out there for you to utilize as well.

One different way I found to help women advance in their career was to join the Philadelphia Chapter of Ladies Get Paid.

Started in New York in the summer of 2016, Ladies Get Paid is a national career development organization and community that helps women to advocate for themselves at work.

Their mission is to give women the tools to rise up in their careers in order to achieve more diversity in leadership in all industries.

To do that, Ladies Get Paid offers both online and in-person workshops, town halls and roundtables, a private social network, and a job exchange. To date, there are over 10,000 members in all 50 states and across 50 countries.

There are multiple other organizations that are dedicated to the advancement of women in the workplace. Take a look at 50 Great Career Resources for Women online by FairyGodBoss for more.

Now back to the Silence Breakers…

What has been happening in our culture is horrific and will take a lot of effort from both men and women to change for the better. I am a firm believer that money talks and therefore if we want a louder voice, we have to earn more.

Chances are sexual harassment in the workplace will never go away completely but you can bet your butt that it will drastically decrease it if women are at the top of the corporate ladder.

In a recent article by Philly.com titled, If women ran more companies, would sexual harassment end?, Please Touch Museum CEO, Patricia Wellenbach stated that “Research shows that diverse leadership creates an environment of openness and acceptance. While I can’t say for certain that a greater number of females in leadership roles would put an end to workplace harassment or make it safer for people to report concerns or issues, I do believe that it can only help. I believe the tone at the top is what creates a safe environment and workplace that empowers people to come forward with an issue that is clearly of great concern to men and women alike.”

Bravo to the Silence Breakers and all other women who are courageous enough to come public with such personal information, a very brave and vulnerable thing to do. Conversations and stories like theirs brought a spotlight to inequality at work.

Now it’s up to the rest of us to show our support and get to the top, to change the culture of what is and is not acceptable workplace behavior.

Let’s do this ladies.

Comment on ways you think women can help each other in their careers below.

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