- Erin Gleason Alvarez
What Women's Equality Day Means For Negotiation
This week marks the celebration of “Women’s Equality Day” in the United States.
In 1973, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as a holiday to commemorate the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. The 19th Amendment came to fruition following a massive, peaceful civil rights movement that was launched by women in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention.
Today, the observance of this late-summer holiday not only commemorates women’s right to vote in the States, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
Negotiation is a key component in how we can create balance and promote equality in our lives, whether that is in negotiating for salary, improved working conditions, enhanced work-life balance, or in creating lasting solutions to problems that naturally arise in our lives, or the lives of our clients.
I started building Take Charge four years ago, during the summer of 2018, after a series of troubling conversations with female friends and colleagues about their experiences with negotiation. These women were entrepreneurs, partners at prestigious global law firms, and CEOs. Powerful positions by any measure. Yet the conversation about negotiation was the same:
Do I have to scream to be heard?
I’m afraid that negotiating will ruin the relationship.
I’m just not a good negotiator.
So, I started doing some research on advice for women when it comes to negotiation. What I found was doubly unnerving…. My initial research led to articles on the following:
Women don’t negotiate.
Women don’t negotiate enough.
Women don’t negotiate properly.
Women don’t negotiate with the right people.
Women don’t negotiate in the right tone of voice.
Women don’t negotiate for themselves.
And so on.
Take Charge was born because I felt it was important to shift away from this dialogue. I do not know a woman who is not an expert negotiator. And there’s a good reason for this - we do not have a choice in the matter. From a very young age, many of us need to learn how to negotiate our way around difficult and compromising positions as a means of survival. Think about it.
The issue is that many women don’t recognize their negotiation prowess because we are inundated with messages that tell us what is wrong with us.
I’m not here for that.
So, if you are one of those people who read this blog in order to get some advice or insights on how to improve your negotiation skills, here is my advice to you. Listen to what you are already doing and recognize that the skills you already have are enough. There’s nothing wrong with you and you do not need to change. You need to listen more closely to how you negotiate now. You negotiate with your coworkers and with your family and with your pets. If you start to listen to the many negotiations that are going on, you see your successes and you see how you achieve them, then you can start to leverage that in other realms where it doesn’t seem to be as easy or as comfortable.
I believe that one of the most powerful tools women have for promoting a more equal society is in active negotiation. Women’s equality, or lack thereof, is not going to be solved without women advocating for women. To do this, we need to spend less time worrying over our lack of experience or skill and more effort in mindful and proactive advancement and encouragement efforts.