It was a big week for getting paid! No matter how many cash-strapped start ups or re-orged giant corps try to convince you to take a low salary for the chance to move up quickly, you’re not buying it. You want to get paid well, first! And it turns out a good winged eyeliner can increase your pay too. PS: File this away for when you’re sitting on a billion dollar IPO: you can follow Jessica Alba’s lead and get your assistant to carry your bags so your power outfit doesn’t get rumpled (alert the street style photogs!)
We’ve been having some amazing offline conversations about The Big Life (and I shot the book cover last week! Can't wait for you to see it!) Thank you for sharing your stories with me. And I’ve gotten a huge response from women who want to host Badass Babes dinners. Let me know here if you want me to count you in! It’s just friends of a friend of a friend talking about the kinds of tricky emotions about work, ambition, life and love that there isn’t enough opportunity to be honest about! And as always, I’m here anytime for questions, comments or confessions!
Does this ever happen to you: You’re going about your day, work, errands, emails…but you can’t stop thinking about something small that happened the day before? It seems like NBD, but it keeps popping into your thoughts, forcing you to deal with it. That’s how I felt when I read the headlines about Robin Wright and her push for equal pay to Kevin Spacey on House of Cards. It’s not the idea that a big name actress isn’t being paid the same as her male co-star that stayed with me—after all Jennifer Lawrence kicked open that door and it’s a regular part of our news cycle now. It was the headlines in the press stories that bugged me. She was “fighting” for equal pay or “demanding” a salary increase. Why wasn’t it spun as “negotiation”? Or, in my fantasy of how the world should work, she’d graciously “point out” to her bosses that she should be paid equally and they say “Oh right, our bad!” and increase her check!
Asking for a raise is emotionally complex. You want to be rewarded for a job well done. You need to pay your rent, and a decent handbag or pair of shoes wouldn’t hurt (not that you’d make that a part of your ask!) But we all want to feel like we’re moving ahead in the world and a paycheck is a big reminder of how far you’ve come. Even the most badass of the Badass Babes wants to be liked at work and be seen as a team player. And so if asking for a raise seems like you’re some outsider who is pounding your fists on the table or taking out your earrings for a slapfight—you’re less likely to go for it. Easier to just take whatever you’re given, right? Yes, that’s easier for your boss. But what’s best for you? Obviously to get paid more. So I asked negotiation expert Alexandra Dickinson, the founder of Ask For It, an equal pay consultancy, for her advice:
"I'm a negotiation consultant who works primarily with women, so to me this is pretty exciting stuff. Robin Wright found that her character was as popular as Kevin Spacey's, and she struck while the iron was hot. If Wright was a man, this wouldn't even be a story. Compare this to a recent Secret deodorant ad called Stress Test: Raise where a young woman prepares to negotiate for a raise by talking to herself in front of the bathroom mirror. She's practically pleading. It's cute when a young woman is nervous - but when an older woman recognizes her leverage uses it, she's basically a calculating bitch. We see opposite ends of the spectrum in media - pleading vs. demanding - because it's a sexier spin. There is a middle way, and it may not be headline-worthy, but it's effective. You have to do the right research, understand your counterpart, and be smart about the way you ask for it. Yes, it can feel awkward to talk about money, but it's essential. Embrace the awkward. How much are you willing to pay over the course of your lifetime to avoid having an awkward conversation? If you can approach a negotiation with a creative problem solving outlook, you're more than halfway there. Once you realize you're working together rather than against each other, the awkwardness dissipates."
I’m all for embracing the awkward. In fact, I think it’s a semi-disaster to have never asked for a raise. This piece from Pattie Sellers, the creator of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, drives me nuts! She says she never asked for a raise, and after 24 years of loyalty to the company, they gave her more than she thought she deserved. I can’t get behind that wait and pray approach, can you? Would love to hear how you’ve gotten paid more on the job. The more stories we can share about negotiating, asking, strategizing for a raise, the more likely we are to get paid what we deserve and more!
PS: Remind me to tell you about the time I turned down a big raise—and why it was the best move I ever made.
If there ever was a patron saint of Badass Babes, it would be Jennifer Lopez (my forever girl crush.) Next time you’re worried about over stepping your bounds at work, or pushing hard to see your vision executed, hold on to these words of wisdom from J.Lo from the Hollywood Reporter.
"I got a moniker of being 'the diva,' which I never felt I deserved — which I don't deserve — because I've always been a hard worker, on time, doing what I'm supposed to do…Sometimes I felt crippled to voice my opinion, especially because certain directors and the boys' club that they form can make you feel like, "Oh, I can't say anything." … Like, we're not allowed to have certain opinions or even be passionate about something, or they'll be like, 'God, she's really difficult.' It's like, 'Am I? Am I difficult because I care?'"
Until next week!
BTW: This newsletter started from a series of conversations at my dinner table (dinner may be overselling...it was fancy frozen pizza and many bottles of rosé). Each dinner was a group of about 6 or so, friends of a friend of a friend, who came together to trade notes, offer support and share insider secrets. I called them the Badass Babes because they were the kind of girls anyone would want to be—confident, rule breaking, game changing. The conversations were so revelatory that I wanted to broaden the sisterhood and connect with young women everywhere. And so here we are. So glad you could join us!