Advice for Ambitious Career Women

Statistics show there are far fewer female than male CEOs. Successful women are often considered less likable than their male counterparts. And according to a 2018 study by McKinsey & Co and Lean In, women who negotiate for promotions and raises are 30 percent more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are “intimidating,” “too aggressive,” or “bossy.”

So what’s an ambitious career woman to do, especially if they are in a male-dominated company or profession? Are there ways they can approach those topics in ways that won’t lead to them being tagged with those unflattering labels?

Pat Roque is an executive leadership and career coach; a self-described “fierce advocate for women” who teaches leadership and teambuilding strategies to help them stop getting left behind and level the playing field.

In her role as career coach for women who thrive in male-dominated industries, she has heard myriad complaints about an unconscious bias — for good reason.

“In 2018, women earned 85 percent of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States,” Roque says. “Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 39 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2018.”

So how do we empower women to ask for what they deserve?

While it’s obviously important for companies, in Roque’s words, “to treat gender diversity like the business priority it is,” that isn’t going to happen overnight, or help women currently seeking a raise or promotion. That’s why she says it is imperative to proactively build a business case for what you deserve.

“When it comes to asking for more, especially an off-cycle raise or promotion, do the homework and know the ground rules,” she stresses. “Thinking like any smart attorney or business consultant, remember to ask the questions that help everyone get to the same conclusion; and enjoy letting them think that it’s their idea.”

To do that, Roque suggests taking the following steps:

1. Articulate why promoting you (or keeping you happy in your role) is faster than replacing you. Some reasons: You’re already integrated into the culture and have vast institutional and industry knowledge along with solid contextual knowledge of how things are done and a network to help them do it.

2. Keeping you satisfied with a proper wage adjustment makes financial sense because it will avoid unnecessary downtime and lost productivity. Mention that external recruits are typically 1.7 times more expensive, keeping you means they’ll avoid recruiter or advertising fees, and that 40 percent to 60 percent percent of new hires aren’t as successful in their new roles as the current ones.

3. Prove you’re worth the investment by taking steps to “uplevel” your personal brand:

–Document your success in performance reviews.

–Befriend HR and department leaders to sponsor your promotion.

–Craft a suggested job description for a new role where you see opportunity.

–Remind them that a solid career trajectory breeds loyalty.

–Ensure your LinkedIn profile positively mirrors that position.

–Publish your point of view as an industry expert.

–Request more recommendations to document your efforts with glowing testimonials.

“Eliciting support through sponsors who will go to bat on your behalf when you are not in the room, and amassing LinkedIn recommendations, allows others to do the bragging for you,” she says. “There’s no need to be pushy or boastful when you have third-party endorsements clearly shouting out why you rock.”

Showing consideration for your manager is also key. “Give her/him the attitude, and ammunition, to approve your request,” Roque says. “Remember to nurture this conversation throughout the year, not just during your annual review…To avoid the negative sarcasm and earn the recognition with compensation that you deserve, remember to make this a win-win-win for you, your management and the company.


(Article written by Kathleen Furore)