MA Equal Pay Act and the #MeToo movement: Tapping into cultural change
Are you confident enough to negotiate a higher salary when you know your experience and value is worth more?
If you saw an injustice happening, would you speak up?
The Equal Pay Act for women went into effect in Massachusetts in July, 2018. It was enacted to equalize the playing field, so that women’s salaries are the same as salaries for men in equivalent roles.
The #MeToo movement has raised the country’s awareness of the terrible abuse of power by men over women. However, if women are not comfortable and confident enough to take action, these new laws intended to protect or help women are only words on a piece of paper.
The key to “living” change is confidence.
Confidence is the belief in your ability to succeed in anything you are attempting to do. It is the willingness to take risks without fear of failure, and willingness to listen to feedback from others for self- improvement. A confident person speaks with clarity, an upbeat tone, uses positive body language of good eye contact, open arms, persuasive gesturing and a smile.
It’s likely that you have heard the saying “fake it until you make it”, or, “just do it.” My personal favorite is “never let them see you sweat.” Pretend you can do something and eventually you will believe you can.
Those who observe you may never really know that while you may look confident on the outside, you are uncomfortable on the inside. However, imagine your confidence and your power when your “outside” is congruent with how you feel on the inside.
The reality? Most of us are not confident 100% of the time. There are situations where self-doubt emerges and prevents us from taking action. Sometimes, self-doubt presents itself as inner, negative messages: “I am not smart enough, I don’t know enough about the topic to comment, I can never get it right.” The negative thoughts keep flowing.
We all have self-doubts. The challenge is to discover ways to overcome them.
One of my favorite quotes by journalist Gloria Steinem is, “We are not responsible for what happened to us as children, but we are responsible to what happens to us as adults.” Her words are truer today than ever for women. To understand why our confidence breaks down, go back to the messages we heard growing up that formulated our belief system.
The building of my confidence foundation and beliefs about myself started off strong. When I was very young, my father gave me a gift whose value could not be possibly be measured. The gift of confidence. As the saying goes, it was the gift that kept on giving and still gives to this day. Whenever I attempted to do something, he would smile and say, “Honey, honey, honey, of course you can do it.” I was blessed to hear such positive messages during my childhood years that encouraged me to try new things and not worry about being perfect.
However, as I moved through college and early career, there were areas in my life where my confidence wasn’t as strong. Some of those negative messages and self-doubts began to affect my self-image. So, over the years, I did the inner work to understand more about myself. I learned techniques; I read books; I challenged myself to overcome self-doubt.
What I discovered was that the work never ends, because life never stops presenting challenges to overcome and victories to celebrate. How do you plan to take charge? How strong is your confidence foundation? Is it like concrete? Are you able to withstand pressure and cracks? With this type of foundation, you are strong, you make good decisions, you project confidence on the outside and you feel confident on the inside.
Or is it like quicksand?
When you step into quicksand, you sink further unless you get help to pull yourself out. Your level of confidence does something similar. If your confidence isn’t strong enough to withstand adversity, self- doubt emerges; your confidence diminishes. You sink even further.
Whether your foundation is concrete - susceptible to cracks - or quicksand - vulnerable to sinking, keeping your foundation as strong as possible is the key to taking action during this exciting time of cultural change.
The Equal Pay Act and the #MeToo movement are just the beginning of empowering the rights of women. When we eliminate our self-doubts by changing negative beliefs, we enhance our ability to negotiate a higher salary and we find the courage to speak up when an injustice is happening.
And, perhaps most importantly, we serve as role models for younger career professionals! Are you ready to take the next step?
What can you do to take charge of your own confidence?
Jayne Mattson is a Senior Vice President at Keystone Associates, which specializes in helping mid-to- senior level individuals in new career exploration, networking strategies, and career decisions based on
corporate culture fit. As a skilled trainer and facilitator, Jayne has applied her expertise in developing and leading dynamic career enrichment seminars. Jayne frequently authors articles on numerous career topics, and her work has appeared on Mashable.com, Monster, and Career Builder, as well as in print publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Jayne volunteers as the Founder of CareerEngage, an organization that empowers early to mid-career professionals to manage their careers. She is also a Confidence Coach for Budget Buddies, a non-profit that helps low-income women become more economically self-sufficient.
This content was produced in partnership with Northeastern University’s Office of Alumni Relations. To learn more about their career offerings, benefits, and upcoming events, please visit northeastern.edu/alumni.