There’s no doubt that March is for women–and International Women’s Day isn’t the only reason. Since the 1970s, the entire month of March has been recognized as Women’s History Month and decided to celebrate with an episode of DE Talk dedicated to women in leadership. The leading ladies in our office, DirectEmployers Executive Director and Recruit Rooster Chief Executive Officer Candee Chambers and Recruit Rooster Chief Operating Officer Heather Hoffman sat down with Elizabeth Jennings, Acting Executive Director of the National Disability Institute to talk about closing the gender gap that exists in leadership and how mentorship shaped their careers. Take a look at some of the highlights from the final episode of season one below and be sure to listen to the full conversation here!

Candee Chambers:
All right. Let’s look at some facts. Women represent 50.8% of the US population, and they earn more than 57% of undergraduate degrees, and believe it or not, 59% of all Master’s degrees. However, women only occupy 10% of top management positions in the S&P 1500 companies, and constitute only 11% of the top earners in Fortune 500 companies. For someone who has worked her way up through various positions, I see this as a problem. I attribute it to unconscious or implicit bias. How can we change the view of women in leadership roles and change the system to be truly inclusive and an equal playing field for both men and women? Elizabeth, you’re up first.

Elizabeth Jennings:
Yeah. When I looked at this, Candee, I thought there’s also new information that women now hold just over 50% of American jobs, excluding farm workers and the self-employed. All of the effort to have women enter some fields has really worked, as now 56% of the US workforce for scientists and engineers under 29 years old, are women. I really consider it that we have quite an interesting majority going on. You asked a great question, which is, what are we going to do with this?

I think, to start, we need to speak up. We recognize that women do less negotiating for salary. We accept lower salaries than men. We’re not necessarily trained on how to ask for what we want, or really how to recognize our worth. Then we can feel some frustration with younger workers who come in and ask for pay that’s out of scale, that they don’t yet have the education and experience.

There is some nuance here that we need to train women on how to better negotiate, how to recognize their worth, and also support young women when they go a bit out of scale, how they can be on a path to earn what they want, and how they can better understand what’s the right scale within your own organization. I think part of that really starts with those of us who have access to pay scales and compensation packages, that we need to speak up. We need to be very clear and address inequity and be consistent in that.

In my role here at National Disability Institute, I actually work with our director of finance. We assess compensation each time we look at increases in pay. Then we work across leadership to address any inequities that may exist. That takes time, it takes diligence, it takes discretion, but it’s really important. If we as women leaders don’t demand pay equity for ourselves and our staff, I don’t know who will.

Candee Chambers:
I think you’re right. I think there’s a lot of people that are still getting used to women feeling comfortable and speaking up. I think doing it in a respectful, knowledgeable, convincing way is obviously key to that.

Heather, what do you think?

Heather Hoffman:
I have to say that’s the ‘D’ in my DiSC Personality Test. Speaking up and making my opinion known, hopefully in a way where I have awareness, that constructive…

I’ll say, Elizabeth, I loved that you stated that we should really be supporting young women that are looking to get into leadership roles and that’s definitely something that Candee has done with me personally. I think later on we’re going to talk about other leaders that have inspired us, and she’s definitely one that has inspired me, and impacts me on a daily basis.

My response to that question would be show up. First, you have to show up to the opportunity. Also, you need to expect equal pay, and through that, perform and prove that you’re worth it.

What a great discussion, ladies! Thank you to everyone who followed along and listened to season one of DE Talk. This is our first venture into the world of podcasts and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the support we’ve received and can’t wait to come back with even more great conversations in season two later this year. Sign up to be notified when new episodes are available by subscribing to the DE Talk email list, or text DETALK to 55678 to get SMS notifications sent directly to your phone!

Kacie Clark
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