Written for The Huffington Post, see the original blog here
One of the key assumptions we found in our research of 118 college-educated women was that women assume that “tangible, material rewards are not supposed to be important.” The results of this assumption are that women avoid asking for what they deserve and lower their career expectations.
This conflicts with the Third Metric approach. The Third Metric broadens the definition of success to include health, happiness and passion. But it doesn’t exclude money and power, nor does it give women an excuse to abandon the pursuit; it just defines them as part of the mix rather than being the primary and exclusive focus.
It’s time for women to grasp this. Women have been excluded from the power structure for too long. Women live longer than men, yet make decisions that reduce their ability to live a financially stable life after retirement because “tangible, material rewards aren’t supposed to be important.” Women are told that they “should be giving back” and so choose to work for non-profits instead of businesses. Or they accept lower level jobs, fearing increased responsibility will mean more work or conflict with family. Women rarely negotiate at work but are happily willing to fight the battle when they are given permission to do so or when it’s for their children. It can be tempting to feed this martyrdom complex when the definition of success gets widened because it can be a way to rationalize a smaller career decision.
Instead, we think women need to take responsibility for the entire Third Metric definition of success. Women need to earn a living for themselves.They need to protect themselves and their families financially. They need to embrace power so they can make change in the world. And change needs to happen in corporations and government, not just in the non-profit world.
One way to change the money/power-avoidance mantra is to reframe it. “Getting paid what I am worth is important. I can find a career that utilizes and rewards my creativity, abilities and experience. I am a good person and I am worth investing in.” When women believe this mantra, they can live it. Negotiation and self-promotion become second nature because they are tools to help women get the deserved rewards. As they rise, they can influence businesses with their purchasing power and politics with their clout. Further, they can determine how widely the metrics for success can be expanded. None of this happens when women weakly sit on the sidelines picking which aspects of the more holistic definition are easier to implement.
Money and power are necessary in our world to make change happen. As long as women prioritize just the other nine areas of success and de-prioritize money and power, change will be slow and cumbersome.