I was shocked to read a recent interview with former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi , who is an inspiring leader for women, immigrants, sustainability, and more. In her interview, Indra shares that she’s never asked for a raise. Why?!
“I find it cringeworthy,” she said. “I cannot imagine working for somebody and saying my pay is not enough.”
Are you falling out of your chair too, or can you relate? I immediately wondered, does this former CEO of a massive organization still struggle to own her worth?!
I know the emotional roller coaster of fear, doubt, and exhilaration that comes with self-advocating as women, especially for women of color and immigrants to the US, but is it possible to reach the top without having to self-advocate for more? For all of us who have struggled to find the courage to finally make our ask and negotiate for our worth, I fear Indra’s comments and personal feelings around money will cast more doubt on whether or not we should be advocating for more.
Because let’s face it, women who self-advocate are often looked down upon as aggressive and difficult (been there, felt that), but statistics show we don’t progress in our careers without advocating for more because of bias.
Reading Indra’s response made me upset, I have to be honest. Why? Because I want nothing more than to see women at the top, leading, changing the status quo, and making BANK. Money is power in our society. Money is THE tool to change the future for the better and negotiation is the leadership skill to leverage.
Even if she was earning $31 million a year (hell yes!), why would she shy away from accepting more? She literally turned down a raise! She shared in her interview that she and her husband never imagined having so much and she gave a lot away, which I respect.
At the same time, I can’t help but feel that even at the top, even with so much abundance, impact, and courage, she still struggled to own her worth, just like many of us.
I see this same sentiment in my work with clients and in my younger self. We “should be” grateful for what we have. We don’t really “need” more. Why should we have more when others suffer?
I’ve come to learn that our complicated relationship with money is often rooted in a lack-based mindset, often created from hardship early on in life, coupled with societal norms that remind us as women we are less valuable. To cope, many of us decide not to want, or not to expect too much. It becomes a self-protective mechanism to avoid pain and disappointment.
The thing that really makes my blood boil is not that she didn’t ask for a raise (even though I am shocked) it’s how deeply our self-worth is entangled with money and having enough as women. I can’t imagine a male CEO turning down a raise – if you know of one please send their name my way. The worthiness entanglement, coupled with generations of discrimination against women, reaches far and wide, and that’s why I speak up and out about it – the system is not serving us!
Maybe we can learn from Indra and create a new status quo for executives and CEOs who would rather give more than receive more. I agree it’s a noble effort, and at the same time, I also know the truth of the matter – money matters. Had she accepted that raise, how much more could she have given away, leveraged, shared, or yes, even kept for herself to create more generational wealth for her family? How would her decision to say “yes” have helped close the gender wage gap for female executives?
Or, maybe her ability to say “no” actually created the biggest ripple effect possible – more financial success for a gigantic company that supports millions of people and families?
What do you think? Please reply and let me know!
To me, there is no such thing as too much when we live in a society that is riddled with widening gaps. I guess it’s because I believe that when women have enough, we are driven to give even more. That our only chance for equality and inclusion comes when women have the power, the money, and the say. I believe positive change for the many will be created when worthy women have it all!
Seeing a bold, powerful, brilliant woman at the top graciously declining more makes me want to stand up and shout – for all the women and marginalized folks before us and to remind her (and others like her) she is worthy and we are rooting for her!
Have you ever been told you’re “too much”? Do you believe some people have “too much”? I’d love to hear from you on this.
You are enough exactly as you are and you are worthy of receiving infinite abundance in all forms. More of a good thing is never too much.
Note: Since I first wrote this, Indra has responded to the online criticism and questions about her statement to confirm that yes, in fact, her relationship with money and growing up without much in India is, in fact, connected to her inability to negotiate for more. I think we can all relate to those cringe-worthy feelings just before we’ve sat across from our boss about to plead our case for a raise. Deciding to own your worth and redefine your relationship with money is where your power lives!