Over the years I’ve had a handful of people reach out to me to find out what my thoughts are on workplace flexibility–namely, for men. Many people still seem to be stuck in the thought process that women need flexibility for work and family time, but men don’t.
And that sucks.
I have a wonderful wife and twin girls running around at home. My wife works full time as a teacher, and if she ever has to be off work it takes several hours of advance planning and preparation for a substitute. Guess who has the “easy” job when it comes to flexibility? Yeah, I drew that straw.
The great part is that I work for a wonderful company. The not-so-great part is that as the resident HR pro, I have to be vigilant about fighting off the insidious mediocrity that lurks around the corner. A manager starts talking about “core work hours?” I coach them in the other direction. Another leader starts talking about eliminating the ability to work from home? I discuss the retention of key people due to our flexibility in the past.
99% of the time these discussions aren’t difficult or malicious, and in every instance thus far I’ve been able to guide the manager back to the reason we offer these accommodations to our staff in the first place. We want to be different. We want to focus on our people. We want our people to trust us so that we, in turn, can trust them with our customers.
Whenever my focus starts to slip, I think back to the day when the girls were born. We had been expecting it for a few months, obviously, and I went in to tell my manager that I needed a week off to help with the girls. The look of disgust on her face has never left my mind even after several years.
That’s why I fight for our people.
That’s why I fight for flexibility.
That’s my battle cry. What’s yours?
About the Author: Ben Eubanks is an HR professional, author, and speaker from Huntsville, AL. During the day he works as an HR Manager for Pinnacle Solutions, an award-winning defense contractor. After work hours, he writes at upstartHR, an HR blog focusing on leadership, passion, and culture.
Do women think and behave differently than men when making ethical decisions? Are we really the exemplars of good decisions and good deeds when we occupy leadership positions?
Women aren’t ethical simply because they are female. Carol Gilligan, psychologist, asserts that women do operate with a unique ethical perspective because of cultural conditioning. She states that men are more concerned with issues of rules and justice, while women focus more on caring relationships and are less likely to judge others. Such concern does not in itself lead to ethical (wise) decisions. The practice of ethics takes a lifetime of learning and we are only as good at it as our history indicates. Those striving to be ethical start over every day, hoping to do it right.
Both genders share some common misconceptions about how to activate ethics in the workplace. Whether a decision is ethical or not is not defined by expressed beliefs or a values statement, but by behavior—what is actually said and done—and its impact on others. Women should prepare to maintain an ethical perspective backed by actions once in the midst of corporate demands. Understand that “good people” can do the wrong thing. One slips down an ethical slope one small step at a time. Understanding the laws of behavior make that slip less likely. Here are a few practical steps to help you maintain your balance:
Step 1: Learn about behavior.
Once you begin to see ethical behavior as a function of the consequences that have surrounded that pattern over many years, you see how much you can do to help a person learn new ways to demonstrate values. To increase ethical behavior, don’t look to what people say they do, rather, look at what they do and the impact of their behavior. Learn how to pinpoint, measure, and reinforce the patterns that count.
Step 2: Make open dialogue possible.
As women, we tend to think that we are great listeners and conversationalists. But we, too, may be guilty of closing the door on dialogue when we’re in charge. To sustain ethical patterns of behavior at work, telling the truth is essential for all employees. Therefore, leaders at all levels must understand their role in promoting, not punishing, truth telling. That is where ethical leadership does the most good—you must always be ready to influence the ethical conditions, or lack, in your workplace. The freedom to discuss issues without negative repercussions is a sign of an ethical workplace.
Step 3: Live the example.
The workplace is not a democracy, but a venue in which some are reported to and others report. This hierarchal structure can create situations in which those in charge forgo common courtesies. If it is unacceptable for your employees to slam doors, yell, or make derisive remarks, then don’t do so yourself. When you use negative techniques to get what you want, employees are afraid to tell the truth about things that matter. Such aversive tactics are doubly unethical when you are in a position to control the consequences for another person.
Step 4: Be accountable.
Currently, there are now more discussions of caps for executive compensation—a pay for performance notion. Imposed regulations will escalate if individuals don’t stand up for reason and fairness on this issue. Watch the perks of the office. Be alert to who got you there and take care in how you exercise your ‘rights’. Male or female, we learn to justify inequities that are in our favor one step at a time. If you ask your employees to make sacrifices, make those sacrifices yourself; that may not be the rule, but it is the ethical choice.
Step 5: Reward yourself and others.
Employees need to know what you value. People aren’t all alike and don’t want the same types of recognition. Some people love public hoopla; others hate it and might just appreciate a sincere thank you. Find out the differences and let people know what is important to you as well.
Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Make decisions seeking a balance between the rights of others, justice, the common good and self-interest.
Gilligan concluded that women are not inferior (or superior) in their moral development, but different, because we focus on connections with others and lean toward exercising an “ethic of care” over an ethic of mere justice. It is this unique difference that we should use and integrate into our workplace interactions.
About the author: As internationally known consultant and president and chief executive officer of Aubrey Daniels International, Darnell Lattal designs and implements behavior-based business strategies to achieve core initiatives. In partnership with her clients, Darnell has expertly contributed to organizational redesign and change management and other core business processes. Darnell has authored several books.
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The glass ceiling is a very real challenge that many professional women face at some point in their careers. Long described as an invisible cap on women’s earning potential in the workforce, it’s been a headline-making topic since the mid-50s – and for good reason. With the current shift in HR toward objective, automated assessments, the gender-based playing field may really start to level out.
Despite high-powered women taking on major executive roles – Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!, Meg Whitman of HP, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup – roughly 97% of publicly traded US firms are still run by male CEOs. Does this mean that men are naturally better cut out for executive leadership? Not at all. But it does indicate that men have the upper hand.
There is currently a major shift taking place in HR that may very well move our hiring process away from such male-preferential hiring, as well as from other prejudices. While in the past HR has been heavily reliant on conventional wisdom, gut feeling and personal references, recruiters and hiring managers are now interjecting behavioral science and job-relevant benchmarks into their assessment processes. Not only does this improve the efficiency of their hiring, but it also allows them to more accurately assess candidates’ competencies and overall job fit in an objective manner.
What’s more, automated assessments generate candidate reports in a way that cannot be manipulated. In other words, hiring managers end up with validated hard data on each candidate’s potential rather than mere notes compiled from a recruiters chicken scratch on multicolored Post It Notes. Information gathered through the latter method is much easier to undermine or ignore, especially for bias-motivated reasons.
Let’s consider a more explicit example of how this change can and will help break down a significant hurdle for women in the workforce.
Ten years ago when Susan applied for a position, she submitted her resume to a highly subjective resume scanning process. Recruiters would often peruse the document for a mere 10-60 seconds before making a judgment call. Naturally, many of the keywords and qualifiers that the recruiter was using offered little in the way of job-relevance. Likewise, this sort of system left the door wide open for bias at the very top of the hiring funnel. In other words, Susan, who was often a potential top performer for the jobs she applied for, would be nixed before she was really ever even in the running – and for subjective or unsubstantiated reasoning.
While automated assessments are unable to completely eliminate gender-based bias in the hiring process, they can significantly mitigate its impact. When a female candidate like Susan comes to the table with a strong job fit and high quality references, and a hiring manager is shown hard data to prove it, it will be that much harder to simply discredit her potential because of her sex.
About the Author: Greg Moran is the President and CEO of Chequed.com, an Employee Selection and Automated Reference Checking technology suite as well as a respected author on Human Capital Management with published works including Hire, Fire & The Walking Dead and Building the Talent Edge. Greg can be found blogging at disrupthr.com or on Twitter as @CEOofChequed.
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As a woman in HR, gender pay equality is a topic that fascinates me.
George Fox University sociology professor, and researcher, Melanie Hulbert, was gracious enough to allow me to interview her about the subject. With Melanie Hulbert’s interview and my subsequent research, the connection between paid parental leave, and closing the gender pay gap, became extremely clear to me as well as the need for US culture to shift the idea that parental responsibilities automatically fall on the mother.
Through paid paternity leave and the equal distribution of parental duties between genders, pay equality can be better achieved. While the culture of management is ultimately responsible, HR professionals can help by championing for better parental benefits on behalf of women and all new parents in the workplace.
According to the report, Paid Leave in the States, the US is one of four countries in the world that have no federal law requiring paid time off for new parents. Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland are the other three.
Hulbert discussed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the lone exception to the lack of US paternity leave laws. The FMLA mandated that companies with over fifty employees, were required to provide twelve weeks of unpaid leave to those who need time to take care of a family member. The act was a step forward, but still a failure in the sense that it doesn’t include companies with less than fifty employees and the leave provided isn’t paid.
A 2011 report by Janet Walsh, deputy director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, “Failing its Families,“ reports that while over fifty nations guarantee paid leave for dads, a mere estimated 10% of non-government workers have paid parental leave in the US.
Hulbert commended countries with paternity leave rights that extend to men as well. When asked about countries leading the way in gender pay equality, Hulbert points to Scandinavia. “You cannot help but look to Scandinavian countries. Sweden and Norway are the trendsetters when it comes to gender equality, in multiple realms,” Hulbert said. “Not just in the workplace, but in politics, religion and other major institutions,” she explained.
Sweden’s paternity-leave policy, instituted in 1974, is one of the best in the world. In Sweden, the government will pay new parents a maximum of 80% of their salary up to approximately $65,000, for thirteen months. Both parents are legally required to contribute, with fathers (or mothers, depending) required to take at least two of those months. As a result, government statistics indicate that almost all Swedish fathers take off the minimum two months, at least. That said, Sweden still has a long way to go, with women still earning less than men, and women taking 76% of the parental leave according to Statistics Sweden (SCB) in 2011.
It appears that in order for gender pay equity to move forward, we must not only be more flexible and accommodating to new parents, but change the cultural narrative that the responsibility of parenting is mostly the mothers. Researchers such as Hulbert and Walsh point to government mandated maternity leave as a step towards gender pay equality.
Pay equality should be a priority for women in HR, and one way to help aid the process is including better paternity leave in the HR discussion about employee benefits.
About the author: Emily Manke is an Outreach Coordinator and blogger for Online Human Resources. She frequently contributes to OHR’s HR blog. Her interests include, writing, HR, gender equality, workplace diversity, social recruiting, music, and being outdoors. You can find her on Twitter at @HRDegrees or on LinkedIn. Emily resides in Portland, Oregon with her boyfriend of five years, and her half Red-Heeler, half Pit-Bull Spud.
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Encounters with your boss aren’t really random, I guess, but I had an unexpected encounter with a boss when I was a young leader moving up in the organization.
I was one of a very few women in the middle management of the firm and was being promoted to the next level. After accepting the new job and agreeing to deliver the outcomes as described, I praised my boss for being one of two executives in the company who had a track record of developing and promoting women into management positions.
He looked at me like I was a little nuts and said, “Are you kidding? Any time I have a women who is even marginally qualified for a management job I’ll give it to her. She’ll work twice as hard and produce three times the results – for half the money!”
Heart stopping, right?
Now, he was a good guy. He had hired me and promoted me twice already. I knew he was pretty chauvinistic – what male boss wasn’t in the early 1990’s? But here’s the thing: he thought he was being complimentary. He thought that telling me that he noticed that I worked harder than anyone else and produced results better than everyone else was a good message. But you know, all I heard was the “half the money” part.
A few months later I got my bonus. It was fantastic. The biggest check I’d ever seen. But you know what I wondered? I wondered if this bonus was a “half the money” bonus. I didn’t know what anyone else got and I didn’t know the bonus formula. So even though I thought the check was huge, I didn’t know what it meant. And I always suspected that, although it was big, perhaps i
t was less than I would have received if I had been a man.
I came to peace with that pretty quickly. He really was a good boss. In the best way he knew, he was trying to acknowledge my performance and contributions. But I’ve always remembered that experience and have used it to be sure I’m clear in my communication with my team – communication about performance, money – and what it means, career opportunity and more. Making sure that highly valued – and other – employees know I value them for what they do, how they do it, the results they produce and how those dynamics impact their career progress is critical in building manager/employee relationships.
I think back to that time and am glad he promoted me – even if his motive was a little suspect. We all got what we wanted: the organization got a highly effective leader, he got a region that blew out its numbers, and I got higher into management with a larger compensation package. Win-win-win.
Funny how those random conversations can change your perspective forever. I chose to learn an important management communication lesson that I never forgot. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “I can learn something from any man – even if it’s what not to do.”
About the author: China Gorman is CEO of the CMG Group, connecting HR to business and business to HR, and author of the Data Point Tuesday feature at www.chinagorman.com. Connect with her on Twitter as @ChinaGorman.
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Women, we have a vitally critical role that we must assert ourselves into now and for the long term foreseeable future. This role is hard to label and has many facets. We must take on this role. We must not shy away from it.
In the news there has an increase in the visibility of rapes and gang rapes, as well as sexual abuse. There are many stats regarding rape, one of the CNN articles I will link to later quotes a survey that 1 in 5 women are the victim of rape. As you start counting the women you know, you can start right here as one of the victims you know. But one in five says you know a lot more too. So we have a job to do. I found inspiration in this CNN article, Teach young men to treat women with respect.
But I want to push our roles as women further into the actionable details and broader in the scope.
- Our job is to teach boys to respect women.
- Our job is to continue to equalize the genders as partners on this planet.
- Our job is to teach women to be strong and build their self-esteem to help protect them.
- Our job is to encourage our brothers, uncles, male friends, fathers and spouses to be good role models for young men and boys. They can make a difference in the lives of boys that may feel the need to follow bad role models.
- Our job is to demand that coaches receive training on how to instill respect for women as part of their development of men.
- Our job is to demand that our military leaders receive training on how to instill respect for women as part of their development of men.
- Our job is to demand that their training is part of the exercise and education of our men.
- Our job is to make sure that men who evidently don’t really know what rape is, are not ever elected to public office.
- Our job is to educate our girls that being drunk can put you at risk of way too many things.
- Our job is to teach women to have each others back and to watch out for the ones that are treading into risky territory.
- Our job is to call out the males in our lives when they encourage the victimization image of women. (I am not talking about being prudish or Victorian about sexuality, that is counter-prod
- Our job is to be outraged and vocal about our outrage at any rape. It is actually a family discussion topic, if you have children that are teenagers. It can’t be swept under the rug, it must be discussed. It wasn’t long ago that we couldn’t discuss breast cancer, but we are now (or you better be).
Women, we have a job to do.
Our job is to help women build their own power and women’s power as a whole which will hopefully change perspectives and here is another great article from CNN, Women's Power: A story with sharp divide.
We as American voters just elected 20 women to the Senate, the largest number in history, but that just 20% of the seats. Not enough. I agree with the sentiment that it is sad that we are celebrating such a low number, but it is a start.
While I was preparing for this post I found a Facebook post from Mary Ellen Slayter that hit home and absolutely loved. It is about changing the perspective of women and empowering their image. It is about the different perspective of women in the fairy tales. It is much more light hearted then the rest of this post, but it is key. We must change the image of women at many levels. This is a great one for the early ages - Girls are Not Chicks Coloring Book.
We have a job to do and it is one of the most vital roles we can play.
About the author: Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is vice-chair to Peoplefluent, a leading social human capital management technology company. Co-founder of the global workforce planning and analytics solutions company Aquire, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne, Lois maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a frequent speaker, author of industry articles, and an avid blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.
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Remember when the exclamation “I’m engaged!” was almost always immediately followed by the question “when’s the wedding?” In today’s business environment, engagement takes on a whole new meaning, referring instead to how engaged, dedicated, and loyal employees are to their organization.
According to one recent article published in Human Resource Executive Online, HR leaders are increasingly preoccupied with engaging their workers. After all, engaged team members are more likely to exert discretionary effort, have lower absenteeism, and are more loyal to the organization. Engaging employees is in every organization’s best interest.
While it is evident that engaging workers is important, recognizing how to do so is a little trickier. Although many organizations realize the importance, only 29 percent of the population is actively engaged. Studies have shown numerous variables go into employee engagement and, based on Avatar HR Solution's Key Driver Analysis of over 3.3 million responses, include the following key engagement drivers,
- Organizational Culture – work/life balance, diversity, etc.
- Career Development
- Management’s Leadership Abilities and Relationship with Employees
- Strategy and Mission
- Job Content
- Open Communication
- Coworker Cooperation/Satisfaction
- Availability of Resources to Perform the Job Effectively
While these factors all play a role in engagement for most individuals, it is crucial to consider the fact that everyone is unique. Women, for example, may be driven more by different factors than men. Many past posts on this blog have discussed women’s desire to “have it all,” indicating the importance of work/life balance. Women may be more engaged and dedicated in a job where they have the flexibility to balance both their personal and professional lives. Additionally, research has shown that women tend
to focus more on building close personal relationships with other individuals. Men, on the other hand, dedicate more time to practicalities. This dichotomy could reveal that women are more likely to be engaged when they have closer personal bonds with coworkers/managers.
Thus, it is important for HR leaders to avoid the “one size fits all” approach to engaging employees. Every employee is different, and there is no key formula for engaging all of your workers. One of the most effective ways to truly understand what engages each individual is to ask. People appreciate the opportunity to provide input about their job, and it’s a straightforward way of establishing an engagement plan for your team members. Additionally, it allows you to further develop your relationship with your staff.
Questions such as “what about your job makes you enjoy coming to work in the morning” and “do you feel your skills are being utilized effectively” can help shed light on the drivers of engagement for employees. You’ll be surprised at what you find out. Remember, however, that the key is not in simply asking the questions, but actually putting what you learn into action. Your employees will appreciate the individual attention you are giving them, and their engagement will be a great reward for your efforts.
Engagement in the workplace may not be the same as a personal engagement between two people, but the key is that both are relationships, and relationships take work. Dedicating effort to understanding what engages your workers will allow you to create the most effective action plans to improve engagement. Don’t wait to engage your employees. Make the effort now.
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About the author: Melissa Herrett is Associate Marketing Project Manager for Avatar HR Solutions. In this role, she strategically works to position Avatar HR Solutions as a leader in the quality improvement services industry and contributes posts to their blog. You can connect with Melissa on Twitter at @EngageEmployees.
Tuesday night, I was perusing my Twitter stream and I started casually following Talent Culture’s #TChat. The dialogue was entertaining but things really got fired up when someone mentioned HR getting a “seat at the table.”
This phrase reminds me of my whining tween daughter pleading to escape the kid’s table and eat with the adults. Yet, I realize that interpretation may not be fair. Many HR organizations are under-appreciated and under-leveraged. Good people want to have as big an impact as they possibly can and HR folks battle some difficult stereotypes in having that impact. But what if there is something else at play? For some reason, Tuesday night, I had a new thought as I followed the chat.
Could it be that HR doesn’t have a seat at the table because women intimidate men?
As the supposed stronger sex, most of us would never admit that we feel threatened by a woman. Take the small dust-up a couple of months ago when Jennifer Wright posted an article at the Gloss, a site for the modern women, entitled, Smart Men Tell Us Why They Date Dumb Women. After reading an article in the New York Times about changing gender roles, Ms. Wright interviewed nine male friends to get their perspective on dating smart/successful women. These “alpha” males provided Ms. Wright with mostly self-serving explanations for their “preference.” Reading between the lines, the group feared abdicating control in the relationship. They appeared to be intimidated by accomplished women.
Who are they going to date? Women are more accomplished than ever. Today, females represent half our workforce. Census numbers released recently show that women now exceed men in gaining both bachelor and advanced degrees. Dumb women? Additionally, women-owned businesses contribute close to $3 trillion to the U.S. GDP, according to the Small Business Association. Yet, rather than embracing the positive strides these statistics represent, men are intent on keeping the male power structure in place.
Will there ever be a truce in the battle of the sexes? I recognize that we focus on the statistics above to celebrate women’s progress in a male-domineering culture, but it would be nice to end the fight over who is wearing the pants. Hell, I was recently surprised to find that there is an ongoing argument about which sex is funnier. Initiating the debate, men such as Jerry Lewis, John Belushi and, most notably, Christopher Hitchens, in a Vanity Fair article, claimed that women aren’t funny. Are these guys just pot-stirrers, keen-eyed social observers or another example of males attempting to maintain their superior status and revealing their unease with, what one author calls, the “Age of Female Empowerment?” None of these explanations would justify the attack, but if the latter one is most prominent, it may explain HR’s absence from the table.
Only 11 women hold CEO spots in America’s 500 largest companies. With men still ruling the executive suite and women employed in approximately 80% of HR positions, may HR still not truly have an equal “seat at the table” because women intimidate men? If men are insecure about entering into personal relationships with smart, accomplished women as various studies have concluded, will they not carry that insecurity into the workplace?
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First impression thoughts and opinions are an unsightly reality of the society we live in. I’m writing this post because I believe it’s relevant for women to remain continually aware of how much they can and cannot control.
I follow a fun blog called Corporette that’s geared to women in the corporate world and it has decent fashion ideas and advice. Recently, there was a post called Diamond Rings and the Working Girl. The article was about what size diamond ring is appropriate to wear in an office and what about wearing diamonds on a job interview?
I posted the article on my Facebook page with a comment, “Regarding wearing diamonds to an interview: DON’T. I don’t recommend any rings. Strand of pearls or necklace, a watch if you wear one and that’s it.”
I received well over 50 comments and most of the comments were from intelligent women who vehemently disagreed with my comment. The women were saying they wouldn’t work or interview with a company that made hiring decisions based on what type of jewelry they wore or what their marital or financial status might be. And that companies should do a better job of educating hiring managers.
They were missing the mark. I was not referring to unethical companies, untrained hiring managers or even jewelry – it’s deeper than that.
Perception is reality so why not make the first impression of you be your real power: your experience, your accomplishments, what you know and how good you are? Control the focus of the interviewer so it stays on YOU without distractions. Wear diamonds and even a wedding ring on an interview and here’s an example of an interviewer’s possible interpretation or first impression (conducted by a human being who will have subjective thoughts and biased opinions creeping into his or her mind) :
- Diamond engagement ring.“Will probably need time off for the wedding and honeymoon.”
- Diamond ring with wedding band.“Wonder if there’s a maternity leave in her future or little kids at home?”
- Gigantic diamond ring with wedding band.“Hubby must earn a good living so she doesn’t need this job. Probably high maintenance who will whine or quit if she can’t have her way.”
This is not about shifting company culture or its leadership, it’s not about training our leaders to make employment decisions solely based on skills and experience, it’s not about whether you work for a family-friendly company, and it’s not about hiding who you are or being disingenuous. This is my point:
You have the power to outsmart and control what society has created in human nature by circumventing unfair judgments that others may make about your lifestyle or character.
Put this particular gender issue behind you by taking control. Don’t bellyache about wanting to be judged solely on your skills and abilities and then leave yourself wide open for a critique that can be 100% off base. If your personal life (married? children?) is none of your interviewer’s business then keep it that way during the interview.
Is this fair? Of course not. Is this real? Yes. Will you ever know about it? Nope. Get the job on your own merit, keep the focus on YOU and wear your bling after you’re hired.
I hope that you’ve realized this isn’t about jewelry or big boobs or surrendering. It’s about successfully and positively controlling how you are perceived by others.
The article points out that, according to analysis done by MassMutual, “women recognize the need for better asset diversification while, historically, men have demonstrated more aggressive investment behavior.” While the analysis of investment style based on gender was interesting, what really struck me was the statement that, ”retirement plan balances for women continue to trail men by approximately 40 percent, and their deferral percentages continue to trail those of men by 0.5 percentage points.”
And other studies seem to find much the same. This past December, Wells Fargo released the results of a retirement planning survey (poll conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc) which focused on middle-class Americans spanning their mid-20s to those already retired and in their 60s.
One of the key findings was that women shockingly underestimate what they will need, financially, in retirement. One rule of thumb is to calculate that you’ll need 70 percent of your pre-retirement salary to live comfortably. Of course, to be able to jet-set around the world, get a weekly mani/pedi and monthly massages, or manage unexpected medical issues, you’ll potentially need more than 100 percent of your pre-retirement annual income.
Now, I’m no Jean Chatzky, Suze Orman or even Dave Ramsey. My family can certainly attest to the fact that I sometimes like to fritter away my hard-earned cash on baubles and trinkets and fun stuff. But one thing I’ve learned, and truly try to live by, is the concept of “pay myself first.” I’ve always taken full advantage of retirement plans offered by my employers and it’s not just the HR-person in me that causes me to encourage others to do the same. It’s a reality that we ALL must “pay ourselves first” and plan as best we can for our post-working years.
This is important for women and here are just a few reasons why:
- Women who retire at age 65 can expect, on average, to live another 19 years. That’s 3 years longer than a similarly situated man. Women who enter retirement as part of a couple may well be faced with ending retirement “single” and the loss of a spouse could mean the loss/reduction of some post-retirement benefits.
- With a divorce rate in the U.S. between 40-50 percent, women need to be aware of options that may be available to them under a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) in the event of a divorce or legal separation.
- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, just 45 percent of working women (age 21 to 64) participate in a retirement plan. Of course, not all employers sponsor plans; the Employee Benefit Research Institute states that just 62 percent of employers do so. And that makes it even more critical for working Americans to use other investment vehicles to save for their retirement.
- Women tend to invest more conservatively than men so it’s very important they carefully choose where and how to invest their money to garner the best return. Women (and men) can consider making catch-up contributions beginning at age 50, to 401(k) plans and other retirement accounts.
I know it’s often unimaginable for a 23-year-old worker to envision retirement when they’ve just started paying off student loans. It seems like common sense to resist making 401(k) contributions in favor of covering one’s right-now living expenses - pesky things like food, shelter and electricity.
Whether you’re earning $25,000 or $100,000 a year, you need to treat your working years as your ‘wealth accumulation’ years. Put aside what you can. Put it to work and let your investments grow.
C’mon ladies (and gentlemen), pay it forward. To yourself. To your future.
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