Leadership: Charting Your Course

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Pew Research Center recently released data showing that women receive 83 cents for every dollar paid to a man. This gender pay gap between median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers has remained stagnant in the United States over the past two decades.

Further demonstrating this disparity is Equal Pay Day on March 24, which represents the number of extra days women on average must work to earn what men, on average, were paid the year before. Unfortunately for mothers and many women of color, this day comes much later in the year.

The U.S. Department of Labor attributes some of the gap to not only gender discrimination, but also racial discrimination, the devaluation of “women’s work,” the absence of support for essential family care and more. Many issues are holding back women as they strive for equal pay but a segment of this problem is a lack of leadership opportunities. Men continue to dominate the top roles and highest-paying professions. The glass ceiling that we have heard so much about continues to exist.

“We call it a glass ceiling and, in some ways. Words are powerful. I’m glad that we call it that because we can see what the possibilities are, and that’s different than in my mother’s generation and even early in my career,” said Angela Scalpello, a highly-sought-after business performance coach based in New York City. Angela has spent decades mentoring and guiding individuals, particularly women, in becoming the best they can be. “I had no idea what those seats of power looked like. The span of control. The impact they have. We call it a glass ceiling and that says we’ve moved into a consciousness that something more is out there if women choose to go for it.”

According to the American Association of University Women, a non-profit organization that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research, there is no shortage of qualified women to fill leadership roles. Women make up almost half of the U.S. labor force. They outnumber men in earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and are nearly on par in getting medical and legal degrees. But from all sectors of the economy and American society, men outnumber women in the highest paying and most prominent leadership roles. However, Angela reports that women can help themselves by speaking up, which can be out of character and an uncomfortable role for many.

“Women have to be better at asking for what they want, understanding their leverage and their options and the impact they have. They must start owning what it is they contribute and they have to ensure if there’s a role they want, they have to understand the capabilities or experiences they need to get that role. They need their company to help them get ready so that when it occurs, they’re ready. We call that ‘experience to readiness.’ It’s very intentional,” Angela said. “Know what you want, ask for it and then make sure you get the experience to readiness. And much of this doesn’t come naturally for women. I paraphrase Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to the United States Congress. She said, ‘If there’s not a seat at the table for you, then bring your own chair.’”

“Women have made some strides because companies — not all because we have so much more to do — but many companies do realize the positive financial and business impact of diverse workforces, whether that’s gender diversity, ethnicity, cognitive, race and more. Businesses know they have to have different voices in the conversation because that’s who customers are,” Angela noted. “We need diversity in thought and experience, and we need different types of leadership. Diversity can do that, and the numbers show that a company does experience better financials. Research shows that diverse teams do better. It’s not a single-threaded perspective or way of thinking or life experiences. It matters for the bottom line.”


Vision Board for Leadership
Angela Scalpello asserts, this must be a well-planned career path with mentors and sponsors assisting along the way. Much of it entails envisioning your future and working to get it.
• Do you see what you want beyond that glass ceiling to put in the effort and hard work to break through it?
• Women must get more comfortable with understanding their value and worth and promoting themselves. Angela points out that some women say that they don’t want to be that person. But you must rethink how you look at self-promotion.
• If you don’t ask, you don’t get what you need. Speak up.
• Don’t forget to leverage the skills that you already have. Women have options and more leverage than they think they have.
• You must be intentional in how you chart your leadership journey. Network, be visible and develop your skillset for the future.