Ilona Brannen ‘3 steps to build your career and your confidence’

As UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced that the Government will set out plans to tackle gender pay gap, many evidences show that ‘working for free‘ is still a daily reality for women worldwide.  Our guest blogger Ilona Brannen, the founder of Learn to Tech Off is back to help you in building your confidence muscles and your career with 3 essential steps. And remember, ‘If you expect to be paid less, you will be’!

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‘In the US, women on average take home 77 cents to every dollar that a man earns’

The etymology of the word ‘career’ lies in the French carrier, meaning road or racecourse. As is well-documented, for a woman, this path is littered with many obstacles. Even 43 years after the Gender Pay Act was put in place in the UK, we still heard that women were effectively ‘working for free’ from November 6th to January 1st every year. In the US, women on average take home 77 cents to every dollar that a man earns according to the 2012 Census Bureau survey. Executive coach Lois P Frankel writes that within just one year out of college, women are earning 8% less than the men with whom they graduated, and by mid-career that number increases to over 20%.

There’s also the lack of women in senior leadership positions. There are fewer women leading FTSE 100 firms than men named John, The Guardian reports. While working as a teacher, I discovered that while women account for 68% of the teaching workforce, 83% of leadership positions in schools are occupied by men.

Women outperform men at all levels of academia up to the workplace and then, within two years, fall behind in pay. Some good news from abroad: if you live in Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden or Denmark, you’re among the best countries in the world for Gender Equality. Even more amazing is Rwanda, first time entrant into The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap 2014, which came straight in at number seven.

‘So what’s going on here?’ 

Why do women do so well and then, upon entering the workforce, have their momentum falter? I would argue that women have been playing by the rules for too long. It’s about time we stop.

As much as I’m a strong advocate of conversations and awareness building around inequality, we can also take some proactive steps to make a difference. Developing your confidence is key to help your career take off, which is why I founded Learn to Tech Off. Our workshops and events for women are to build their confidence and empower them to fulfill their potential.

When we advertised our recent workshop on negotiation, even though the course was intended to support women, men emailed to ask if they could attend. They reached out; they had the confidence to come along and improve their skills and overcome barriers. I believe this points to how women undervalue themselves in the workplace. Every bad deal you’ve ever got, you agreed to – so it’s vital to flex your skills, have a safe space to practice and learn to take off with your career.

Here are three tips to achieving a successful negotiation:

  1. Prepare

It might sound obvious – but it’s essential that you do your research and, if you can, practice beforehand. What are your interests in this negotiation? What are the interests of your counterpart?

  1. Ask

Engage with the person you’re speaking to and ask them questions. The closer you can get to a mutual sweet spot, the better.

  1. Package

Frame your ‘ask’ in a way that appeals to both parties. It should feel like a conversation. Start with the results you can deliver to your counterparts, your team, or your organisation.

‘If you expect to be paid less, you will be’

Research indicates that women tend to want to know everything before applying for the next job role. What’s more, women devalue their salary expectations by 20% in comparison to men. I believe this is intrinsically linked to our confidence and how we can be paralysed by the fear of getting it wrong. Expectation breeds behaviour – so if you expect to be paid less, you will be. The way to change this is education, practise, reflect and repeat.

What have you done to practise your negotiation skills and how did it go? How do you think it could have been better? We would love to know your experiences and if you find the above tips useful for your next negotiation. Tweet us @learntotechoff

‘Experience, reflection, repeat. Learning in action’

I believe that if more women were in senior positions of power, better decisions could be made. So go out and find a group of supportive people, get a space, get practicing and build your confidence muscles. Let’s tech off together.

The workshop’s methodology was based on many different sources including the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is a way for women to develop their confidence in negotiation techniques.

Professional PhotoIlona Brannen. With over ten years’ experience in education and technology, Ilona understands how to get the best out of people and to help them realise their potential. Ilona excelled as a teacher in London, and saw there was a gap and an enthusiasm for education for girls. Since then she has been running successful initiatives encouraging women, and girls to take risks. As a result one of her students was elected to the UK youth parliament and another won a national app building competition. Now, as a consultant Ilona is working with professional women to build their confidence muscles and so Learn to Tech Off was born.