Women leaders should talk more about financial independence, bargaining & budgeting opines Neha Bisht

The pandemic brought in additional responsibilities for everyone across the world. In India, male and female employees had to level up, push their barriers to accomplish more while striking a balance between their work and domestic responsibilities. However, when it came to compensation, there was a huge disparity between the payment of male and female employees. Last year, a study[1] went on to show how 65% of the women got a bonus for additional responsibilities in contrast to around 70% of the men receiving it. The gender pay gap is not new, social dynamics and work culture being responsible for decisions regarding payments. Pay gaps cannot be bridged overnight, but individual strategies and collective awareness can help change things for the better.

In a world where women are often used to settling for less, it’s also important to focus on the art of negotiation and drive conversations around it. Keeping in mind John F. Kennedy’s words, we must not negotiate out of fear, but we must never fear to negotiate. A lot of fear is based on our deep-rooted unconscious bias that prevents us from asking for more because we think we deserve less. The only way to get more is by asking for more, without the baggage of conditioning or any preconceived notion.

Understanding the bias

The gender divide, in many cultures, is established right in childhood. This means from a very young age girls might be expected to be more adjusting and accommodating in contrast to their male counterparts. This conditioning strikes a wedge which keeps widening with age. Later, in a professional sphere when women become adjusting instead of being assertive, seniors keep taking them for granted. This affects their pay in the long run as compared to men demanding higher salaries and earning way more.

Ushering in the change

Things are slowly changing with more and more women coming to the fore and taking up the reins in many organisations. Research says once women become leaders, they are more assertive about their employees’ needs than their own. This is because negotiating on behalf of other employees aligns with the traditional behavioural pattern of the nurturer. When women are allowed to be at the bargaining table more, there is a higher chance of women having a positive economic impact on a company. Organisations can grow holistically when they ensure inclusivity and diversity through different steps and financial decisions are no different. When there are sensitization workshops and training sessions on budgeting and bargaining, both men and women should be encouraged to participate and practise for a more positive economic outcome.

Women leaders who have faced their struggles should be more open about ways in which other future leaders can cope with those struggles. Starting conversations around how women can make budgeting easy and how financial independence can go a long way in helping a woman make economical decisions in their workplace is necessary. Collective awareness can come about when more women talk about their personal experiences and share their knowledge. For most women, it is easier to connect and relate to another woman talking about similar financial hurdles. For some meticulous planning works in chalking out their financial journey and for the others, they like to try and explore before figuring out what works for them. Either way listening to influential women leaders can help other women make an informed choice. As more and more women become aware and ask for what they deserve, the gender gap can be gradually narrowed down.

If we wish to achieve gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow and ensure growth across industries, we must focus on inclusivity in every aspect. A systematic change starts with a small step and the issue of gender pay gap is no different.

 Neha K Bisht, is Founder & CEO, Blue Buzz

[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/gender-pay-gap-deepens-during-covid-women-left-behind-on-pay-hike-bonuses-study/articleshow/88187690.cms

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