I just finished reading Knowing Your Value by Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. While I am not a super avid watcher of Morning Joe, I do subscribe to their YouTube channel and was very involved in watching their coverage of the 2016 presidential election. I was excited to read this book.
Mika, always outspoken and one who can hold her own with the boys, struck me as confident and unapologetic in her convictions…hence why I am a fan.
It’s also why it was a huge surprise to read her book that she described herself as emotional, naïve, apologetic, timid, and it wouldn’t even be unfair so much as to say doormat.
Throughout Mika’s career in broadcasting she experienced major shortcomings regarding fair compensation. The book follows her, and her co-host Joe Scarborough’s relentless push to propel Morning Joe to the top of MSNBC’s ratings chart.
As you might know, Mika was an integral part of the show’s success, and yet Joe was making 14 times her salary.
Yeah…14 freaking times!
Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think a lot of people on TV are rich. Especially ones with their own show on a prominent network. But alas, Mika was being taken advantage of by her employer just like a lot of us out there probably are as well.
Knowing Your Value features advice from celebrities and business people such as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Editor and Chief of More magazine, Lesley Jane Seymour, The View co-host and comedienne Joy Behar, advertising executive and television personality, Donny Deutsch, former GE CEO, John Welch, former advisor to Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and even the current president himself, Donald Trump.
All of them give their experience with either being a woman, managing women, and/or their biases towards women in the workplace. It’s an interesting and very quick read, and one in which you will probably finish it feeling frustrated as hell that this can happen even to the utmost high profile females.
Mika is adamant about helping women advance in their career which is why she wanted to be forthright about her years of not knowing her value. The book chronicles how she was expected to take on more job responsibilities without being compensated, pay for her own hair/makeup/wardrobe, and was even discouraged from asking for more money by a female executive for fear of not being liked.
Years of struggling, overcompensating, and making all of the wrong moves (one major one was observing men like Joe and seeing how he did it) led Mika to finally put her foot down. She was ready to walk if she didn’t get what she wanted.
Now many of us aren’t in a position to quit our jobs. We’ve got bills with our names on them and in many cases dependents who count on us to provide. But no matter what your current financial situation, it is important to stand by your convictions and truthfully know your worth.
A staggering statistic form the book stated that women ask for raises and promotions 85 percent less often than their male colleagues and when they do ask, they on average ask for 30 percent less.
We can do better ladies!
I myself have been in positions where I knew I was underpaid. I made the biggest mistake of divulging past salary history because I was afraid of getting cut out of the hiring process if I refused. That was a huge disadvantage after I got in the company. I started out below where I should have been.
I’ve also asked for more money only once in my career so far (more will come, I am sure). I had to patiently wait six whole months before I got it. I look back wondering if the company would have made the deal faster for a man, or if I should have threatened to quit.
I knew my company was on the cheap side and I had heard plenty of stories of higher level, more tenured employees threatening to leave without an increase, to which my company did not oblige. I figured if they wouldn’t do it for them they probably wouldn’t do it for me either.
I was a super high performing employee and I knew what I asked for was a drop in the bucket to them. It was frustrating as hell waiting for what I knew I should have had the entire time. But better to ask late than to not ask at all, right! I ended up eventually getting about a 12 percent raise. Just goes to show it’s better to ask!
Another major part of the book I could relate to, and something I think we oftentimes don’t notice, is the idea that
women are often given praise over money. I’m a victim to that as well. It felt good to have my boss give me awards, praise, and recognition, but would that same approach been given to a man?
One rather embarrassing situation, in hindsight, was a story of a female in the book who was taken to lunch and given earrings for all of her hard work. Now would a man ever be given a watch? No, he would get a real bonus like a respected grown up.
It’s important women don’t take the small crumbs and instead demand a bigger piece of the pie.
I recommend this book for anyone that needs a little inspiration to go for it!
For me, the older I get the more I feel comfortable talking numbers with others in my industry, friends, and even current coworkers. Information is power and the more we know, the better. There are plenty of resources out there for help (ex: Ladies Get Paid). Or if you want even more Knowing Your Value, head over to the conference coming up in San Francisco!
Be prepared. Ask for what you want. Be willing to walk away. Never forget your value.