What can we do to elevate more women into leadership positions?

Men are in an advantaged position versus women in the workplace by virtue of their gender dominance in leadership positions. However, before I discuss the workplace, it is very important for men to recognize that for women society dynamics are very different. Many of my female friends remind me of this famous quote by Margaret Atwood, renowned author of The Handmaid’s Tale, when highlighting the difference:

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” 

With this societal backdrop in mind, my career advice to men is to be hypersensitive to gender issues in the workplace. Women do not benefit from all the inherent advantages that come from being the majority in power and are disadvantaged due to the many workplace biases that prevent them from maximizing their potential. For example, research has shown that men view women as less capable of handling stressful situations or less capable in marshalling a team. In addition, even to this day, female parents take on more of the burden doing double duty as both career women and working mothers. 

Whether you are a man or a woman, as a leader, it’s your job to set up your female employees for success so that they can maximize their potential and yours. This means encouraging them to speak their mind, giving them equal (or even more) airtime than their male counterparts, offering to mentor them, and giving them insight into how to work with their male co-workers. We can all do better, but men need to recognize the disadvantaged position that women have in the workplace.

What suggestions would you have for negotiating a raise? How much should we ask for?

Negotiating for a raise is like negotiating for anything in life except the stakes are arguably the highest. You are essentially asking your boss to place a price on your work. With these stakes in mind, I encourage you to treat negotiations like any sport in which you want to win: practice early and often. Hone your skills by starting with lower stakes situations. For example, go to the farmer’s market and haggle for a good deal then work your way up to cars and maybe even a home. Many people are uncomfortable negotiating. Don’t shy away from those situations and relish the opportunity to hone your skills. You’ll find that when the time comes to negotiate your compensation, you will have mastered the basics.

As it relates to negotiating your raise, I have found the best way to do it is early and often. Ideally, right after you’ve done something great for your company or shown your value to the organization. After you’ve won a deal, had a successful show, or gave a great presentation, sit down with your boss and discuss your future. Give your boss a sense that you love your work and that even though compensation is secondary, it’s in their power to help you do your best work and not be preoccupied worrying about your pay. Tell them to alleviate your worries about compensation by paying you fairly and making it a non issue. To guide them, come prepared with comparables, and, if you feel the need, make it clear to them you have other options. 

As for what to ask, it’s really an intersection of two Venn diagrams: the minimum your boss needs to pay someone of your caliber, and the maximum you truly believe you are worth given market comps and the going rate for equally capable people to do your job. You need to know where this overlaps before you lobby for more. But remember that every one of us is replaceable so don’t think for a minute that your boss doesn’t have a breaking point. They do. One final important point. If your boss hears about your compensation expectations for the very first time during the actual raise negotiation then you’ve already lost before the negotiation has begun. Don’t blindside them.

How do you feel about bringing a pet to the workplace? My company has no stated rules on this.

First, reach out to your Human Resources department to get an understanding of the “unwritten rules” of the workplace. No company has the time or resources to spell out every single thing, and if they do, they come across as overbearing Big Brothers. Every company has a unique culture to cover the unwritten norms so start with HR for their guidance. If they don’t know, then ask your boss. Just remember that work is work and home is home. For many of your colleagues, pets belong in the latter. So be considerate of your co-workers before you decide to bring your pet to work.

About the Author: Dave is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur.  Prior to founding several companies in entertainment, investments, and technology, he worked on Wall Street for almost 25 years. He started his career by joining a fledgling investment bank, Jefferies when it had less than 200 employees.  Today, Jefferies is a multi-billion dollar diversified public company (NYSE:JEF).  It was there that he rose from the entry level position of Analyst to Group Head of Internet and Digital Media and was one of the youngest Managing Directors in firm history.  As one of the only managing directors of color in the firm, he successfully broke through the bamboo ceiling by not only working hard but also understanding how to play the corporate game.  He has had hundreds of bankers work for him during his career and served as a mentor to many who have gone on to some of the best business schools and companies in America.  He is eager to share his knowledge with Asian Americans seeking to realize their full potential and achieve their career goals.

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