Why Aren’t Women Getting Paid What They’re Truly Worth?

Why Aren’t Women Getting Paid What They’re Truly Worth?

By Jo Ilfeld & Guest Blogger: Allison Bliss

Women earn less than men. We know that. And in the corporate world, it’s explained with talk of discrimination and glass ceilings. But what about the gender wage gap in the service industry where consultants, designers, trainers, coaches, or other professionals are setting their own pricing – why do women still earn less in this marketplace?

In my consulting to hundreds of business owners and CEOs this is what I have consistently found; Men charge whatever they want, women charge what they believe they’re worth (often not their true value).

Four Issues Holding Women Back [& The Solutions To Increase Your Earnings]

1) ISSUE: Too Much Humility:

The majority of the wise, capable, passionate women CEO’s, leaders or professionals I know, often exude an air of modesty that borders on lack of self-confidence or even self-worth.

Hopefully, we’re moving past the era where women believed that being humble was an attractive quality. While the overt bravado that many of our male counterparts exhibit is not an appealing characteristic, the balance between those two behaviors does win higher earnings. We call it confidence – knowing your capabilities and deep value so you can comfortably claim it to earn more.

>>You don’t need to brag to have an accurate assessment of your value and what you bring to the table to help your clients. For those who feel awkward stating their own value, I recommend a book by Peggy Klaus called Challenging the Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It.

>>It is also reaffirming to create a list for yourself of all the experience, accomplishments and value you bring to benefit your clients. Besides reinformcing your confidence, the list should supplement your promotional materials or sales discussions.

2) ISSUE: Over-serving Others:

Both authors regularly feel that they see this commonly:

As if quietly doing their jobs well wasn’t enough of a hindrance, many women in service professions (like coaching, consulting, training, HR, or healing professionals) feel that it’s their duty to help others and that it’s greedy or selfish to charge too much for their services. Some go even further and consistently discount their lowest prices to help clients they feel couldn’t afford them otherwise – even when it ends up being to the detriment of supporting themselves and their family.

By contrast, consider this: Have you ever met an auto mechanic who felt greedy charging $300 for a tune-up?

Don’t Cheat Your Business!

As a professional you are selling the knowledge, expertise, solution or answers that took you decades of study, often costing thousands of dollars, and vast experience to learn. By discounting that price, you are simply de-valuing your worth to your own business and to your profession at large, as well.

Your job as a leader or business owner is to make your business thrive and succeed so you can help more people who need your services or solutions.

Charge your full value to clients if you’re providing your full value to them. Don’t sell on price, sell on value! If your price is too low in your marketplace, it undermines your value (or what your perceived value is in the market). Sure there are exceptions, but it’s critical to conduct competitive market research to find out what the market will bear and what competitors are charging so you have the full picture to determine your pricing. You don’t want to price your services out of your market, but don’t cheat your business earnings, either. After all, Knowledge is Bliss!

Once your pricing is fairly set, you can choose to donate your talents or profits to the charities and individuals of your choice. Don’t make the mistake of turning your career into a philanthropic endeavor.

3) ISSUE: Unwilling to Claim Expertise:

Have you ever felt bewildered that you were overlooked for a job or client project when someone far less qualified or experienced was hired? This might help bring some perspective:

Women feel they must know 90% about a subject before they’re qualified to jump in (or apply for a job) while men feel they only need to know 10% and can figure out the rest once they get the job or make the sale. While I can no longer find the source of this factoid, my long career spanning many types of business and work sadly bears it out. Of course this doesn’t apply to all men! My clients and husband defy this stereotype.

Yet I point out this huge difference in belief systems because I see this as a significant force holding women back from charging their full value when bidding new contracts, negotiations, and raising their rates.

Are you making this mistake?

I hear extremely capable women tell me they need more classes, training or education when in fact they are just trying to avoid making sales. Don’t fall into that hole, get some help strengthening your capabilities in marketing & sales so you can earn what you’re worth!

>>Solution 3: A Three Part Solution

  • Prepare for the sale by learning all you can about what a potential client needs, what issues they have, how they like to work, and exactly how your offerings address their needs. Review their website, Linkedin or Facebook profiles to get some information and have an open discussion before selling your offer. After all, most people start service businesses so they can really help their clients, right? So, make sure you’re the perfect solution – and if not, refer them to someone who is. What goes around, comes around.
  • Make It Easy For Clients To Say “Yes.”  Remember the old expression: “If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it?” Why not make it easy for clients to say ”yes” and put your prices online! Allison regularly has clients thanking her for this and telling her they hired her because it was clear she wasn’t trying to hide something important like pricing.
  • Package Your Services.  It’s also critical to package services rather than sell them hourly. Why? Because your clients don’t “control” your work so they won’t know how many hours it takes to get something accomplished. Better to let them know what they’ll get and charge for that. If you’re not sure how to package your services, just contact Allison and she’ll show you how.

4) ISSUE: Shying Away From Conflict:

As one co-author, the mother of two boys explains, boys are raised to spar, fight and wrestle. Girls are raised to play house and co-operate. While the gender roles might be shifting, it’s not fast enough to get women business owners to stand their ground when facing heated pricing talks instead of trying to “play nice” and feel liked by everyone around them.

Many women believe that conflict is inherently bad, rather than perceiving it as an opportunity for education and growth. I believe conflict is about expressing “conflicting opinions” – a valuable way to explore the “what ifs” so you can really think things through to figure out the best solution. It doesn’t have to be charged with anger or negativity. Often women worry they will be perceived as difficult rather than “easy to work with”.

>> Solution 4

This is the hardest and yet simplest of solutions. Be bold. Be strong. Exert your opinions. After all, that’s probably why clients approached you in the first place! Smart clients don’t want a “yes (wo-)man” – they want someone to challenge them and show them how to do better work or make improvements.

We get it, really! It’s hard to change patterns and beliefs that have been ingrained since your childhood. The first step is being aware that some of these limiting beliefs might be holding you back for achieving the success you so badly want.

Your next step is reaching out and finding help to make change so you can move forward. Find a great mentor, a knowledgeable consultant, coach, or therapist and enlist them as your travel companion along the route to help you earn what you’re worth and fulfill your full potential.

By Jo Ilfeld & Allison Bliss

Allison runs a marketing & communications agency that delivers strategic business direction for mid-size enterprise and small companies on a growth track. Directing full-service marketing with top level teams of writers, designers, social media mavens, publicists, and the full gamut of services, Allison directs all projects to manage strategy, costs and time for companies who do not have an established marketing department but need to achieve business success. All pricing is on her site at: http://www.AllisonBliss.com.

Read Above For Jo’s Bio.

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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