Over the past three years, Tyson & Mendes has been honored to host thought provoking seminars to advance and support women in the insurance and legal industries. Topics of discussion during our first two events included the importance of work-life balance and self-care and managing often conflicting career and personal obligations. While feedback was positive, participants were left with one main question after these lessons: how do I navigate high stakes conversations with my employer to support this balance?
Our 2018 Women’s Initiative panel sought to equip participants with concrete strategies, tips, and tools to effectively advocate for oneself. Led by moderator Cayce Greiner of Tyson & Mendes, panelists Susie Quagliato (AIG Private Client Group), Jessica Rogin (Liberty Mutual Insurance), and MoniQue Simpson (American Family Insurance) shared their advice and experience and answered several thought-provoking questions.
The panel first addressed the importance of self-advocacy. The panel refuted the common misconception that women self-advocate for purely a personal benefit. Rather, in one woman’s self-advocacy lies the potential to blaze a trail for women who succeed her. In this context, advocating for oneself is crucial not only for the obvious reason of self-fulfillment, but also on a larger scale.
Next, the panel shared personal experiences in which they successfully advocated for themselves or wish they had advocated more. One panelist shared a story in which she and a male counterpart earned equal promotions, but she learned he received double the pay increase. She shared specifics of how she addressed the issue with the employer to quickly receive the same pay increase as her male peer without confrontation.
Another panelist cautioned against assuming employers notice when an employee deserves a raise. In a similar vein, an increased workload or more advanced responsibilities does not always include more pay. One should not presume their employers with notice and appropriately compensate their outstanding work if he or she not initiate the conversation.
The panel then shared concrete advice on how to initiate and navigate a high-stakes conversation. The panel agreed one should approach a conversation with the goal of achieving a mutually beneficial result, rather than presuming each side represents two conflicting positions. In addition, preparation and research may be necessary to provide a clearer picture and stronger support for your position. Further, employees should get comfortable with discomfort. “Embracing the awkward” may be the key to a successful conversation. Listening, inviting feedback, and working from a place of collaboration will position all parties toward reaching a common goal.
The panel concluded by reinforcing the importance of these statistically underutilized methods. Women must advocate for themselves, not only to receive an immediate benefit, but also to challenge gender inequities for women currently in the workforce and for generations to come.
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