Ed’s note: This post was written by guest editor Anna Thomas, COO of Stockdale & Leggo.
Women everywhere are hailing Lisa Wilkinson a modern day heroine. This week, she let her feet do the talking, standing up to the misogynistic management at Channel 9 and making her point abundantly clear: women should never accept a salary less than a male counterpart for performing the same job.
Unfortunately, the gender pay gap, and lack of initiative on behalf of management in addressing it, is not exclusive to the media and entertainment industries. This is an issue which transcends age, industry, religion and race, and almost every woman I’ve spoken to about the issue has a story whereby a male colleague has been paid more than her, for doing the same job.
I don’t believe in sitting back and accepting this as the status quo. I think the balance is starting to shift as women find their voice and are speaking up for themselves. There is definitely strength and power in numbers and Channel 9 has no doubt experienced this via social media over the last 48 hours with many expressing their disappointment at their dogged preservation of a significant gender pay gap between Lisa and co-host Karl Stefanovic.
As women, I believe it’s imperative that we take our careers into our own hands and not sit back and accept this unequal playing field as our reality. We can, and will, do better. The below are my own tactics for not only surviving, but thriving in a misogynistic culture.
How to survive and thrive in a misogynist culture
Don’t be a wallflower. You’re a capable, talented and highly skilled woman. You have the ability to use your abilities to spark change but it will involve speaking up and having a conversation, likely more than one, and it may possibly be confronting. Especially if you haven’t been one to voice a controversial opinion in the past. This reluctance to express an opinion, however, will be what holds you back, so dig deep, think of the value you bring to your company, create some bullet points and hold the line.
Focus on professional development
I’ve found that continued professional development makes you incredibly appealing to a workplace. Take advantage of the training offered to you by your employer, attend industry events, network, build your contacts, listen to podcasts, read books. If you continue to demonstrate your increasing value and skillset to your employer, but work in a company which doesn’t value you the same as they do men, like Lisa, find someone who does.
I believe that it’s incredibly important, as women, to create your own opportunities and to do this, you must back yourself. Self-belief is an incredibly powerful weapon when it comes to advancing your career, and while you feel it might be easier said than done, it’s pivotal when it comes to taking the next step. If you struggle in this area, make a list of all your skills that you’re really good at, and ask others what skills you have that they admire. Write down any awards, accolades, courses and achievements to further prove to yourself that you’re worth it. Look at that list daily. Repeat out loud, “I’m worth it”. Because you are. You can do whatever it is that you set your mind to. So find “it” and chase it with abandon.
Start your own business
Prior to my role with Stockdale & Leggo, I ran my own consulting, recruitment and training company. I did this because I didn’t feel valued or appreciated by my employer. I was a hard worker, I had runs on the board and still, it wasn’t acknowledged. So I left and started my own business as many other women are doing today. And better yet, they’re succeeding. And do you know why? Because they’re capable, talented and highly skilled women with something meaningful to offer. And you are too, so don’t discount this as a very real option if there’s something you are incredibly passionate about and are considering taking the leap.
Ladies, we are not victims and there’s no need to play the victim in this scenario. Lisa could have jumped on board the victim train, but she chose not to. She was in full control throughout the whole process. And as she has powerfully demonstrated, she knew her worth, she fought for it and when Channel 9 didn’t play ball, she found someone who would. This misogynistic approach to management has to end and I believe that we can certainly make a dent in it by following Lisa Wilkinson’s lead and fighting for what we’re worth and letting our feet do the talking if we’re not heard.
About Anna Thomas
Anna Thomas is the chief operating officer of Stockdale & Leggo and founder of Empowered Women in Real Estate. With over 15 years’ experience in consulting, sales, marketing, marketing and training, Anna has proven herself to be a leader, a disruptor and one not averse to shaking things up.