CEO Coach Robinson Blog # Nine: What women are talking about at work these days.

by jeremy.robinson on October 12, 2010

A lot of women are talking about money. Is this a surprise?  Well, it shouldn’t be.

They’re especially talking about how much money they make and how men- who make most of these decisions in Corporate America- decide what they should be paid.

Female executives in major corporations all have stories.  These stories are often about male colleagues who tell them things such as, if your husband works, you shouldn’t complain if you make less money than a man.  Some male executives have the audacity and lack of common sense to compare these female colleagues to a female relative or spouse that might be a teacher or a social worker.

A top female executive at a Fortune 100 company whom I coach told me she’d heard this from men throughout her 26-year career.

“You shouldn’t make as much as me,” she was told. “Your husband works at a big company.”

Another she heard:

“Look , my sister is a teacher and she makes $ 60 K. What are you complaining about?”

Meanwhile this female executive is doing the same job as the guy pulling down $ 250 K or more and might be doing it even better.

Side note:  Most male executives have the good judgment not to utter these statements.  But many, I believe, do have these beliefs, even in these more enlightened times.

Repeatedly, women are telling me that bonus decisions are based on what their spouses do for a living, and not solely on their performance.  They’ll hear things like, “Oh, her husband is a doctor.  She doesn’t need to make as much as our male Partners.”

Or they’ll hear the opposite: “Her husband works as a carpenter.   We should try to make sure she gets a higher bonus because she’s the one who is really supporting the family.”

Rightfully speaking, female executives are infuriated by this kind of talk [which is also a HR violation] and these kind of comparisons.

Women are talking about money because as hard as their male peers and they’re entitled to the same pay.   I do think the fact that women are talking about money is a good thing and more of us should be listening.  This ain’t complaining- this is setting things right!

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