As a mentor to professional women, I find that the most common complaint female senior executives and business owners have is the amount of gender bias found in their work environments. It’s a staggering issue for most of them to overcome. On average the statistics support their claims, as the most recent U.S. Census demonstrated that women (in the exact same business role) typically earn .75 cents for every dollar a man makes. That doesn’t seem so appalling in the small scale, but to think that every male executive who earns a million dollars per year has a female counterpart who makes $750k for doing the same job will definitely open your eyes to the degree of disparity organizations are still showing between the genders.
This huge gap is even more apparent in professional sports. According to ESPN’s research the average amount earned per athlete on the Top 30 Paid List in 2010 was just over $5.5 million. Boxer Manny Pacquiao and baseball player Alex Rodriguez were the two highest-paid athletes on the list, each making $32 million. The lowest-paid athlete was women’s bowler Shannon Pluhowsky at $40,300. Among other notables listed were NBA star Kobe Bryant ($24.8 million), soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo ($19.5 million), and NFL quarterback Peyton Manning ($15.8 million). The highest-paid female athlete was tennis player Kim Clijsters, at $5,035,060.
Now, I could lament alongside my female clients and tell them how unfair their plight is- but I don’t. My job isn’t to further the sense of inequality they feel. My job is to empower them to change it. From my perspective, women have taken the backseat to men in business because they fail to recognize one thing: Two people being equals do not mean they have to be the same.
In business and life, being equal to men does not mean that we, as women, we have to be mirror images of them. We don’t have to dress the same, talk the same, walk the same, and conduct business the same. If the roles were reversed, do you think men would start sporting skirts and peep-toed Jimmy Choo shoes? Funny as that would be, I don’t ever see that happening. Men are successful because they understand that being different is a good thing.
Consultants are always telling their clients to “differentiate their services”, “approach things from a different perspective”, or “reach out to a client base with a different marketing scheme”. Women bring a different leadership style, communication style, and team methodology that men usually don’t contribute. Yet, female leaders are hesitant to embrace the thing that makes them most valuable: The fact that they are different!
Monday Morning Perspective:
“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” -Aristotle
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Instead of wondering why the playing field isn’t an even one, get out there and change it. The greatest thing that we as individuals bring to our organizations is our differences. If you look at the aisle in any store that sells toothbrushes, there is one of every size, color, shape, and functionality for sale- all because everyone wants something slightly different.
The same principle is true for business leadership. A fortune isn’t made from being just like the competition. Success lies in store for those who can embrace their differences and capitalize on them. So regardless of your gender, race, religion, or upbringing- stop worrying about everyone else. Figure out what makes you different, embrace it wholeheartedly, and have confidence in yourself. The greatest gift you can give to yourself is a sense of self-worth that can weather life’s storms.
Have a wonderful week!
© Crystal Dyer 2011. All rights reserved.