The Breaking Money Silence® Podcast Interview: Kathleen Burns Kingsbury and Ashley Paré
Is it true that women don’t ask for help at home or more money at work? In this episode, Kathleen interviews Ashley Paré, about this myth and together they discuss the skills you need to ask for what you want and empower others around you to do the same.
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Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: Hi, this is Kathleen Burns Kingsbury and I am excited to welcome Ashley Paré, the founder and CEO of Own Your Worth, to the Breaking Money Silence Podcast today. Welcome Ashley.
Ashley Paré: Hi Kathleen. Thank you.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: You know, Ashley and I met over a cup of coffee over the phone. She reached out to me when my book, Breaking Money Silence, was published. We had a wonderful conversation, and I loved what she was up to as a leadership coach and a negotiation expert, and speaker. I thought, "You know what? I would love to have her as a guest, so my listeners could hear and learn from her wisdom.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: So Ashley, why don't you tell people a little bit about yourself and then we'll delve into your myth.
Ashley Paré: Yes, great. Well, thanks again for having me. I'm excited to be here with you. In general, what I like to share when people ask me that age old question, so what is it that you do? I help my clients feel confident when they ask for what they want in life and career. Throughout that journey, my corporate background was in HR. I spent many years in tech, and pharma, and consulting. A couple of years ago, I started my own company, so I'm coaching clients privately and also working with organizations to help put in place women's advancement programs, and equal pay practices.
Ashley Paré: Having left HR, I can now freely work on both sides. Both with employees and employers, without having to walk that fine line, which I'm really excited about.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: Yeah, and like I said, I love what you're up to. Certainly, anybody who follows my work, knows that anybody who's helping with gender pay equity is certainly I'm a fan of. So, we're going to delve into your myth, because it's certainly something that earlier in my career I addressed a lot in terms of the money myth, women don't ask. So, why did you pick that myth? What motivated you to say, "That's the myth that I want to bust wide open today."
Ashley Paré: That myth for me has come up, not only in my career, but also my personal journey through gaining my own confidence and how I wanted to self-advocate for myself. I teach a lot of salary negotiation workshops here in Boston and we try to unpack and uncover the causes of the wage gap. So, one thing that I often here is that women and others will say, "Well, women just don't ask. So, maybe that's why the wage gap exists." I think maybe in the past, that could have been part of it, but I do know for sure that it can be hard and complicated, and even scary when women do want to ask.
Ashley Paré: So, I wanted to bust this myth open because I myself has asked, since my very first role out of college and I also work with a lot of clients who ask. For me, busting that myth is important, because it's really about preparing, and it's really about pausing before you make an ask, to really understand what any really, or maybe perceived negative consequences might be, because you are a woman asking.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: What's interesting is it's such a stereotype, and I do think both men and women occasionally have trouble talking about money, and asking for a raise, or negotiating a salary can be really complicated. The idea that there's just this blatant statement of, women don't ask, in some ways strikes me ... and I don't know about you ... as kind of a cop out. Like, if women don't ask, then we don't really have to solve this gender wage gap. What do you think?
Ashley Paré: Yes, absolutely. That's part of my mission and this case around education is that the wage gap is real, and it's going to take not only women, but men and allies and legislation, and definitely employers to solve this problem, because it's a cultural bias often times. We talk about socialization and how women are raised to be nice and avoid conflicts, so this is multi-layered and that's part of busting the myth. It's not just about women not asking, because plenty of them do, and they're faced with a lot of negative push back, or just plain no.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: It's a complex issue, as you say. So, on an individual basis, if someone's listening in and they say, "Ah, women don't ask." Maybe it's a woman that's listening and says, "You know, I do have trouble asking for money, or asking for a raise." With any myth, or with any money thought, there's always an upside and a downside. So, before we get into the obvious negative impact of women not asking, is there any upside? Is there anything that either the individual gets, or the corporation gets by buying into this stereotypical thought that women just don't ask for money, so there's not much we can do about it.
Ashley Paré: What is the positive? Something that some clients have shared with me is that, they were able to find a mentor, or someone internally who woke them up to this myth and helped them realize that maybe that's what was holding them back. So, I don't know if there's any positive from the company side, because it's really about how can women build thriving careers? How can companies retain top talent? If someone is aware to these issues from a company standpoint, and they're talking about it, whether they're in HR, or they're a manager, it can be really helpful to start that conversation. To think about how pay decisions are made, or how career paths are developed.
Ashley Paré: In terms of it being a positive myth, I don't see much upside to it because it's really hard, especially if you do ask and the person on the other side of the table is unexpecting, it can be a little bit tricky to manage that type of conversation.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: Absolutely, and I think when I talk about a positive ... In some ways I think, okay, if we're uncomfortable talking about money ... Whether we're in a corporation, or whether we're an individual ... the short term may be positive, or not even positive ... maybe that's the wrong word, but the short term gain is, I don't have to be uncomfortable as an individual female asking. The company doesn't really have to do anything, change any policies, train anybody because you know, women don't ask.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: So, that's historically kind of what my sense of what is happening. However Ashley, you're really working at saying, "Well, okay that's not true. That's not reality." So, tell us what do you see in your work? Maybe through a story, or some statistics, as to the downside of this idea that women don't ask for money, or don't ask for raises, or don't ask for what they need.
Ashley Paré: Yeah. Working with clients, and then also working with corporations it's a complicated issue. I'll use a client story. So, when a woman wants to be promoted, and/or receive a raise, she's someone who is a go-getter, a game-changer. She wants to be at her company. She wants to be in even a leadership position. She really wants to have the respect of her boss, and the leaders within the company. There's so much anxiety from her standpoint around, "Am I good enough? How's this going to go? If I do ask for it, what are the negative consequences here that I may face? What will they think about me?" So, from the client standpoint there's often a lot of anxiety because they look at negotiation, and even money is a taboo topic, as you say.
Ashley Paré: It's something to be won or lost, versus a discussion to have. A way to, I really believe build trust with your boss and with your employer, by having these tough conversations. So, it can get tricky if the person you're reporting to, or the leadership and the culture at the company doesn't have strong pay programs or policies, and/or if there's bias around the way women should be growing their career. So, that's what I love to help my clients through is we prepare for a yes, no, or maybe answer. To be able to have those discussions, because it really isn't about the person. It's about the value they're bringing to the organization, and looking to be paid as competitively and fairly as possible within the market.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: I love the idea of, having a negotiation conversation builds trust. We often don't think in those terms, but you're right. I think sometimes you get a lot of credit from a boss, or a colleague, or you're role modeling to other women that you are going to have a mature conversation. It's not about necessarily winning, or losing. It's about engaging in that conversation so we can move towards everybody being paid fairly.
Ashley Paré: Yes. I've had several clients, who once they make their ask their bosses have said, "Thank you for your commitment to excellence. Thank you for preparing in this way, I'm really impressed." And I've also heard, male managers specifically, say that throughout their career, women were woefully unprepared in these discussions. So, I think it really shows that you take yourself seriously and the work that you do, when you do prepare. Even having a script in front of you, lets your boss know, "Hey, I'm serious about this." You prepare as you would for any meeting in the company.
”If you could wave your magic wand, how would this conversation go, and what would you receive at the end of it?”
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: You've mentioned preparation a couple of times. What are maybe two or three things that people can do to start to prepare for this conversation?
Ashley Paré: We've been talking about money and that is important, but it's really about a seat at the table, more responsibility, the opportunity to move into management. Sometimes it's just about getting funding to get a certification, or to go to a conference, or flexibility to work from home. So, these conversations can be more than just about money. It's really about creating a path for yourself in your career. One of my favorite questions to talk through with clients is, what is your ideal outcome? If you could wave your magic wand, how would this conversation go, and what would you receive at the end of it?
Ashley Paré: If you start from what you would love to have happen, then you can be really clear on your must haves and your nice-to-haves. So, setting yourself up for success really looks like, "What is it that I want? What am I willing to say yes, or no to, and what are some things that I'd be willing to negotiate? Willing to maybe give up if I receive x, y, or z?" First having that clarity on what is it that you really want?
Ashley Paré: Sometimes it doesn't end up being just about the money. Sometimes it's more about, "I want to be respected. I want to be included in decision making processes. I want to have a heads up." So, that piece is really important, and also being able to talk about numbers. Having prepared what you're going to ask for in terms of a salary range, if salary is what you're asking for. There's a lot of talk around, do you deflect? Do you wait for the company to put out a number? But this is where I truly believe that is important for you to ask for what you want, so that way you can help the employer hopefully make it happen for you. If they don't know what you want, it's really hard for them to go to bat for you, or to give you something that will not disappoint you. So, getting really clear on your numbers.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: I just want to jump in, because getting clear on your numbers, I think is really key. If I was to play devil's advocate, I'd be like, "Well, how do I figure out that number, or what if I ask for too big of a number, or too little of a number?" I imagine there's a lot of anxiety, because just even talking about salary can be such a difficult thing. There's a statistic out there that often romantic partners don't even know what their partner makes. So, let alone, if you don't talk about it with the person that you're hanging out with the most, it must be pretty intimidating to talk about it with a boss or a future employer.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: So, how do you coach people on figuring out what that numbers' going to be, and how to get over that anxiety?
Ashley Paré: It's a big one, and I spend a lot of my work with clients, and my program about changing, or shifting your relationship with money. So, first it's about understand what are those fears? What is the shame, or embarrassment, or anxiety around talking about money? I'll ask my clients how they spend, or save. What was modeled for them from their family, or upbringing, and what money means to them. So, first trying to clear any blocks they have to money and realizing that, I believe money is energy. It's really about giving and receiving. When you're at work, you're giving your contribution, your commitment, your value, your loyalty, your time. So, what you're looking for is a return on your investment. So, you're showing up everyday and the paycheck is what you receive for your efforts.
Ashley Paré: I try to unhook the money fears from ... This is an exchange, giving and receiving. Of course there's market research to be done. Talking with peers. Trying to be as transparent as possible with people in your field. Looking at salary.com, payscale.com, asking your HR, or finance team, "What are the approved salary ranges for someone like me in this position?" So, asking lots of questions around money, and how people are paid within your specific organization.
Ashley Paré: When I was in HR, I did my best to be able to answer that question if people asked me, but it really depends upon the culture, the leadership. Is there transparency around how they pay, or not? That will tell you a lot about your career progress there.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: So, it's what's the ideal outcome, talking about the numbers, and it sounds like that is really where you help people break money silence, get unhooked. What else do you help them do in preparation for going into that negotiation, to have the best possible outcome?
Ashley Paré: I help them feel confident, and tap into their confidence. All of the preparation work really allows them to know that they are, if they're performing well, then this is just a discussion. No matter what the outcome is, it's more information for you to be able to make the next decision for yourself and your career. So, I love being able to have a woman own her worth, and my clients feeling, "You know what? I'm being bold, I'm being brave, but I'm going after what I want and no matter what happens, I will be okay. I can pivot. I can still make a decision." So, it's really about asking. It's just getting more information. So, you can decide what's next for you. It really helps them tap into their value, what do they bring? What makes them unique? If they were to leave their company, how would that impact the bottom line for that business? Often, we are hard on ourselves and often our worst critics, so being able to really think through what makes you a great employee, helps build that confidence to make the ask.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: I have certainly gone through a variety of different shifts and changes in my own career, and my own relationship with money, and embracing financial success. Which can be complicated as women, but it sounds like really working with someone like you not only helps somebody address the emotional aspects of money, it also helps them understand the process that goes into ... in this instance, a negotiation at work.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: I know, having had powerful women in my corner, and still do, that you really start to feel more confident the more you have these conversations, and the more you have somebody cheering you on. Somebody like a leadership coach, or an expert like yourself. For me, it's a business coach that I've worked with for years. It really truly feels good, even when they say no. I'm in the midst of a salary negotiation right now, and I'm feeling confident enough, where I could walk away from the negotiation, and that's the best position to be in.
Ashley Paré: Yes.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: Because you do feel good whether you get the deal, or not. Which is a really pleasant way to go into a negotiation, and ultimately I think the outcomes are better when you're not as emotionally hooked.
Ashley Paré: Yes. I completely resonate and agree with that, because what I learned through my negotiations in my career was that, I always felt good when I asked for everything I wanted, even if I didn't get it. It's those times that I didn't ask, or I held back, and then I started a new job and it's a yucky feeling. It's not a great way to go into a new relationship on any level. So, asking no matter what the answer is, you can always stand firm to say, "You know what? I did my best and I tried, and I put it out there."
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: Time goes so fast on this Podcast. I feel like we could talk for days and days, Ashley. Maybe we'll have you back at some time, but I want to make sure that listeners know where to find out more about you, and I know you also have some special stuff coming up. So, let people know how to find out more about you, and I'm going to let you share the exciting news.
Ashley Paré: Okay, great. Yeah, I love to chat with folks, so feel free to email me, or you can visit my website. I'm enrolling for my three month Own Your Worth Activator Program, which is a small group coaching leadership cohort, my signature program. I'd love to work with anyone who is motivated to want to feel confident asking for what they want in their life.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: Exactly what we need is women like you. All of us gathering together and figuring this out with the support of men, who also want to close the pay gap. So, thank you so much Ashley for your time and for breaking money silence with me today.
Ashley Paré: Thank you Kathleen, I appreciate it.
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, a wealth psychology expert, author, and founder of KBK Wealth Connection. If you like what you heard today, be sure to subscribe in iTunes, or your favorite Podcast app, and leave a review. Also, share this episode with your friends and family. It is a great way to get the conversation started. For more information about Kathleen, go to www.breakingmoneysilence.com.