We’re Talking Pushback: Part 2 – It Works At All Levels

Posted March 18, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

Last week, we started a conversation here at Career Girl about pushback. Comments continued on numerous LinkedIn groups, on Twitter, and through comments on our website. While we told women to push back when they were uncomfortable or confused, questions arose about pushback for women who might be further along in their careers. How can you push back as a female CEO, for instance, without feeling or looking like a bitch?

So today, we’re giving you a few more ways to push back no matter what level you’re at:

  • Include yourself, sometimes even when you’re not included. A very high level woman at a corporate retailer once told me a story of her male counterparts leaving her out of important meetings. Over and over again, she’d hear about decisions being made in her own department, and realize she wasn’t included. What did she do? She closely followed the calendar of one of her equals, and just showed up to the meetings she knew she should have been included on. No one was going to be ballsy enough to tell her to leave these “boys’ club” meetings, and as time went on, she started to be included on the meetings they knew she should have been part of to begin with.
  • When you know you’re not being paid equally, say it loud and proud. Here’s something you may not know about most men – they talk to their colleagues about how much they make…pretty regularly. Chances are, the guy in the office next to you knows exactly what the guy in the office next to him makes. Women, though, don’t often have these conversations. We want to be polite or avoid controversy. But the fact is, knowing what your colleagues make means you know whether or not you’re underpaid (my guess is, you are!) If you’re underpaid and overworked, Career Girls, you have every right to negotiate your salary. This is a time to push back! My favorite example of a high level woman in this area is Mika Brzezinski. She found out after joining the show “Morning Joe” that Joe Scarborough made 12 times her salary. She embarked on a process to get paid more that often made her look and feel like a bitch, and later wrote the book Knowing Your Value about her story. Read it!
  • When you don’t know something you need to know in order to rise in your career. Last year, I heard Anne Prammagiore, the CEO of ComEd, speak at a event. She talked about her route to becoming ComEd’s CEO. She began at ComEd in their legal department, but recognized that in order to rise to a C-level position, she needed to know many facets of the business. So instead of becoming complacent to just rise in legal, she pushed back. She asked for a job in regulatory affairs, then in operations, and it was that breadth and depth of experience that made her the prime candidate for CEO. Don’t allow someone to pigeonhole you in a role or a department. Instead, take that opportunity to push back and recognize which areas you want to learn and grow into in your career.

What other ways have you pushed back in your career either to get ahead or to make your job an all around better experience?

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."