We’ll all be aware of the recent deadline for organisations to report on their gender pay gaps. I found the official government website strangely interesting to dip into. I looked at my own employer (women’s pay 24.5% lower) and at some of the organisations whose female staff I’m hoping will take part in this open Springboard course. They ranged from 15.5% lower to 8.5% lower. Of course this is a complex area and there are a variety of things that contribute to the gap; I’m not going to discuss those here.
But what it did get me thinking about was how we value ourselves and the work we do.
This is particularly pertinent for me in relation to this Springboard programme; in fixing the course fee I had to consider a collection of sometimes conflicting aspects. For example: the costs of putting the course on; what is a reasonable course fee for four full days, a workbook and guest speakers – and what about women who might be self-funding?; how do I not exclude people? And what will make it viable for me to run, and so on.
(By the way if you want to attend the course and are self-funding, please let me know as I may be able to help a little.)
The most difficult thing to do is to put a worth on my time and experience (which to be fair to myself, is considerable.) Women are notoriously bad at undervaluing themselves and at asking for what they are worth and I’m no exception, so this whole area has been something of a challenge.
From thinking about how we value ourselves and our skills and experience, I went on to think about core values, which is one of the central themes on Springboard; we spend a lot of time working on and with them. As participants build awareness of their core values, they gain clarity on what is important and right for them as individuals.
As we start to build this awareness, it’s very easy to expect the external world (our boss, our families…) to deliver on our values for us. However one of the things I’ve come to realise during my years of working with Springboard is that the first and most important step is to work on fulfilling our values for ourselves. For example one of my strongest values is to do with laughter; one of the areas where I work on my own development is to bring fun and laughter into daily life, rather than waiting for or expecting others to provide it. And I think the more you do this – deliver on your values for yourself - the more others will respond in kind.
After all, others only value us to the extent that we value ourselves. By no means am I saying that the gender pay gap is down to us not valuing ourselves highly enough – we know there are many factors, many of them difficult to influence – that contribute to it.
But I do think we should stand back and evaluate our worth from an objective standpoint, and practice the principle of valuing ourselves, our skills and experience, for what they are truly worth. This means, as well and first and foremost, delivering on our values for ourselves.