SAN DIMAS, Calif. -- Why do female executives earn less than their male counterparts?
Amy Rapp, WesCorp's Director of Simplicity, presented that question to attendees at WesCorp's Women's Leadership Conference during a session on the future of female leadership.
The most common answer from the audience was simple: women don't ask for more.
"Traditionally, women are bad at personal negotiation," said Judy McCartney, CEO of $828 million Orange County's Credit Union.
McCartney said that anyone, male or female, should make two lists before entering a negotiation situation: one list of things you want, and one list of things you don't want. When asked to compromise, offer something from the undesirable list, McCartney said.
Victoria Pipkin, of $679 million 1st United Services Credit Union, said she agreed with McCartney's advice to enter salary negotiations prepared. The CFO said that when she moved into the credit union industry, she first researched average industry pay for the position for which she was applying.
"That way, if they offered me $40,000 and I knew the position was worth $65,000, I had the knowledge and the power to ask for what I was worth," Pipkin said.
Rapp pointed out that some salary structures only serve to increase pay disparity. By awarding salary increases as a percentage of current pay, salary differences between a man and a woman with equal skill sets and job descriptions will only increase with time.
"Personally, I've always preferred more of a commission based pay structure, because it's objective. If you achieve A, you receive B, regardless of whether you're a man or a woman," Rapp said.
Rapp said that many CEOs, male and female, allow their confidence to be eroded by what psychiatrists refer to as "the imposter syndrome."
"Eighty-five percent of CEOs believe they don't know what they're doing, that somebody else could do it better, and someday they will be found out," Rapp said.
While male leaders tend to bluff their way through situations they aren't familiar with, women will admit their weaknesses, Rapp said.
"The key to overcoming that self-doubt is realizing you're not the only one who feels that way," Rapp said, adding, "It's not what you know now that will determine your success, but how quickly you can learn new things." --firstname.lastname@example.org