The Lilly Ledbetter Act doesn’t help women, standing up for oneself does.

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Lilly has made some women happy in the fight against discrimination in the workplace, but for the most part, she is holding the rest of us down.  Her years of fighting in the courts ended in 2009 with a victory for her and people like her (those who believe all individuals offer the same amount of value to each trade and should be forced by law to be paid as such) and a crushing defeat to business owners, hiring managers and employees of all talents, trades and sexes everywhere.

Lilly was a diligent worker for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co for 19 years before she realized she was being paid less than men with her same job title.  Frustrated and embarrassed, she immediately filed a sex discrimination case against her employer of 19 years.

What I’d like to know is, why in the course of 19 years did she never approach her employer to discuss her increase in worth given her extra years of service and increase of workload managed successfully while carrying solid documentation of what she had done to help the company grow and ask for a raise?  Why did she never research the job postings for her company and the industry competitors to see what her level of experience was worth in the open market?  There have been books available to coach employees through this very process for many years.  See an example below:

Excerpts from: How To Negotiate An Increase 
By Robert Moskowitz

Sure, your boss or Board of Directors might call you in and offer you a raise, But chances are overwhelming that they will not. So if you want to earn more money next year than last, you will have to initiate the process yourself and use all your skills to pry loose a little extra.

Strategic Approaches

  1. Determine your worth in the marketplace.
  2. Consider how to become more valuable to your employer.
  3. Feel good about asking for a raise, and do not worry about getting canned.
  4. Phrase your request assertively, not aggressively.
  5. Anticipate the objections, worries, or problems your request might generate, and incorporate the top three or four in your initial statement.
  6. Set limits.

Lilly,  saying that every single individual in a “communications/managerial/development/training/etc.,” position at a company should make the same amount of money as their counterparts is to say that they all have the exact same skills as their neighbor and none bring any more value to the company than any other.  If that were true, there would be less need for so many employees doing exactly the same thing and money paid to each employee could arguably be higher.  We are not all the same, Lilly, which is a positive.  We each fill a certain niche and the value of that niche varies from company to company.

Rather than teaching our young ones to fight for equality of outcome in the courts, join me in teaching them to stand up for themselves, to do their homework on the market every year and to approach their employers with a strong case of why they deserve a raise.  If the employer does not agree that they are worthy of more money,  advise them to professionally resign and find a competitor who is willing to pay for their special talent.  The former employer will get the picture and the employee will have more money, more pride and more time to earn and save income so their families can enjoy spending quality time together.  I believe in this free market solution to pay each according to their ability rather than holding everyone back to the pay level of 1.

I believe, and the women I have worked alongside during my 17 year career in a typically male dominated industry such as finance, that the best way to defend women’s rights is to stand up on our personal records of experience, education, excellence, integrity and results.   The harder one works, the higher percentage of payroll she can and should demand.   Teach our daughters to fight in the real world everyday to get ahead and stay ahead, rather than consistently assuming the role of a victim who fights against freedom and personal responsibility

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One Response to The Lilly Ledbetter Act doesn’t help women, standing up for oneself does.

  • Denise Denny
    Denise Denny says:

    Re: Lily Ledbetter Act doesn’t help…
    I appreciate the insights of this writer. In my work experience where women had union representation there seemed be an undercurrent of discontent. I’m wondering if this would have been the case had they been in the position of representing themselves in negotiations with management. More to your point is the reality of self motivated women with high work ethics working beside others contributing less but compensated the same. Gender isn’t the only factor. Each of us is unique. I much prefer speaking for myself and see how opportunities for self determination may be lost if you’re placed into a court drawn box.

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