Like many of us around the world I watched Oprah’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, nodding my head and agreeing with the sentiments of an end to inequality, an end to putting up with sexual harassment, an end to being seen as second class to men.
At the same time I had just heard about a top BBC correspondent Carrie Gracie who quit her senior job as China Editor over the lack of an equal fair and transparent pay system in the corporation. Two thirds of the stars earning $300k or more were men and the top 7 were all male too.
This is not something new – legislation in the UK around equal pay has been law since 1970 – yes nearly 50 years! And still we have this disparity.
I could feel myself getting really steaming angry not just at the unfairness of it all, but actually angry at myself.
I spent 35 years working in the corporate world, and I knew that most of my male counterparts were earning more than me. Heck one of the guys working for me was earning $20k a year more than I was. Seriously?
And what did I do? I asked nicely for a bit of a raise, I didn’t want to cause a fuss, I didn’t want to be seen as a stroppy female I was scared they would think I didn’t deserve it. And so I accepted the small raise and I kept quiet, and planned my escape.
I’m actually not blaming my employer, they were just paying the ‘market rate’ for the role, which equates to ’what the employee will accept.’ My point is I should have believed in myself, believed I did deserve it and made more noise.
The fundamental problem I see, stems back to the female role models we had when we were growing up. Mothers who sacrificed their desires, their happiness and their dreams for their kids.
Daughters learning you should put others first, that asking for what you want is being ungrateful for what you already have. They learned this because that’s what their mums did.
I know this for sure because I see it all the time with prospective clients, who really want and need to make some positive changes in their life. They are feeling overwhelmed, sad, stressed or depressed because they have put themselves at the bottom of their own priority list – behind the dog!
They spend thousands on getting their kids the latest computer/phone, pay for their hobbies, overseas school trips, heck even buying them a pony. But when it comes to spending even a tenth of that on something that would be life changing for them, they can’t justify it to themselves.
“Oh I couldn’t possibly spend that much on myself, even though I know I really need to.”
I had to learn to stop putting myself at the bottom of my priority list, to go after my dream.
So next time you deny yourself something (whatever that is), which would help you have a happier more fulfilled life – just remember what this says to your daughter, your niece or the next generation.
Let’s hope they aren’t still having this discussion in another 50 years time. Let’s embrace change to bring about an end to inequality.
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