Category: Negotiation

Finding Financial Confidence

As COVID continues and stimulus checks remain unpredictable, it is more important than ever to find financial stability and security. DeLynn Zell, CEO of Bridgeworth Financial, gave a detailed presentation last month on how to control personal finances during the COVID crisis. Some of her suggestions include creating a budget, establishing savings, and making a financial plan. 

Unfortunately, women have historically earned less than men. “Women are three times as likely as men to say they can’t afford to save for retirement and have significantly lower rates of financial literacy. Women also make up the majority of caregivers, and are three times more likely than men to quit their jobs to care for a family member.” Despite men spending more time working from home, women are still bearing the brunt of the labor. According to Forbes, mother’s work hours fell four times as much as father’s in April, widening the already existing gender gap. Most men worked the same amount of hours, but women were expected to take on additional caregiving and homeschooling responsibilities. The future remains uncertain, but women across the country are finding unique ways to support each other. 

Here are some ways women are gaining strength:

  1. Being vulnerable. “Talking about and sharing more stories about the success of women who took chances, made missteps and still ended up on top are vital to helping more women go after their dreams and not be so focused on seeking perfection,” said Sarah Kauss, Founder & CEO of S’Well. Mentoring relationships are a great way to swap stories and bring encouragement.
  2. Improving emotional intelligence. According to the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, “Investors ask men about opportunity and the potential for gains while women are questioned about the potential for losses.” Reframing challenges and gaining confidence can help narrow the gap. Jean Ann Larson, Chief Leadership Development Officer at UAB, gave an insightful presentation on the role of emotions in the workplace.
  3. Speaking up. “College-educated women make about 90% as much as men at age 25, but only 55% as much at age 45.” Of Momentum’s Alumni, 79% agreed or strongly agreed that Momentum had a positive influence on their attitude to negotiate in the workplace. Delphine Carter, Founder of Boulo Solutions, works every day to help women find new careers. Her advice on achieving professional goals is for women to proudly share their accomplishments in a comfortable way, allow themselves to be whomever they want and, as importantly, learn to support each other on that journey.

Power Up! Summer Intern Event Was High Energy

Summer is a time for students, and this year Momentum teamed up with Alabama Power to host a half-day of professional development, designed especially for college student interns.

The day got started with a four-person panel featuring senior-level women from Alabama Power, Protective Life, and Regions Bank. Following the panel, Momentum alumnae and managers from Southern Company hosted round-table discussions on ten different topics, such as negotiation, work-life management, and career progression.

The event was the brainchild of Giuli Biondi Williams, campus recruiter for Southern Company. She approached Momentum about partnering for the event. Momentum decided to incorporate the idea into the quarterly Momentum Leadership Series.

With the combined resources of Alabama Power and the Momentum alumnae network on the event logistics, such as the event space, speakers, content, marketing and registration came together in just a under a month. All 120 seats filled in just two weeks. Our future leaders are clearly ready to jump-start their careers! Participants came from companies large and small, such as Protective Life,  Encompass Health, Regions Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, UAB, Brasfield & Gorrie, Oakworth Capital,  Pack Health, and Peritus PR, just to name a few.


Thanks to the generous support of Alabama Power and all of Momentum’s program sponsors, there was no cost to attend the event.

Event organizers have already received great feedback from participants:

“Friday’s professional development event was amazing. Thank you for working with Guili to make it possible. I love the mission of Momentum and the intentional investment in women. My favorite part was getting to hear from the panel of women and then hearing interns ask in depth questions. I am always excited for new opportunities to network and I look forward to future events with Momentum.”

“This event was a great professional development opportunity as well as a great networking opportunity. I’m so thankful I got to meet so many women who have the same aspirations as I do!”

“I loved the panel and the panelists! From a college-aged, about-to-graduate-and-start-her-career, female intern, I thought it was very interesting and noteworthy to listen to other female leaders that have been working for a long time who had advice and stories to give. Listening to real workplace advice from real leaders is inspiring!”

While we can’t recreate the entire event in blog format, we can dedicate the next few posts to covering the most popular topics at the event. All of the topics are relevant at all career levels, so feel free to share and comment.

Here’s to a fun and productive summer.

New Study Suggests Equal Pay Next Century

Kayleigh is a college sophomore and marketing intern at Momentum.

In January, Momentum’s April Benetollo wrote a post entitled “Who Can Wait for 2085?”  The article focused on the study that projected women to achieve parity in leadership in this country in the year 2085.

A new study from the AAUW suggests that women may not achieve pay equity with men until the year 2152. Yes, middle of the next century.

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the earnings ratio hasn’t had significant annual change since 2007. The gap has narrowed since the 1970s, due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. Still, the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own. At the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152.”

-The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, Spring 2017 Edition, AAUW

An early career woman faces the daunting reality of the gender pay gap, especially as she makes career path decisions that affect her long-term salary. Some of the gender pay gap stems from the motherhood penalty, which we will discuss at a later time, but this Forbes article has two suggestions for eliminating the gender pay gap: implementing pay transparency and eliminating negotiation.

photo credit: Wall Street Journal

The idea about implementing pay transparency is establishing unbiased meritocracy within an organization. It would raise awareness among employees, which has been the consistent weapon of choice to combat gender bias. It’s not that organizations are outwardly opposed to equal gender rights, rather organizations are unaware of how their actions affect the gender pay gap. Underlying biases are not always recognizable. Implementing pay transparency could eliminate the issue, forcing organizations to be honest about how employees are rewarded for their work.

Men negotiate salary and benefits 4 times more than women, but when women negotiate, they are likely to earn $1 million more over their lifetime than women who refuse to negotiate. It’s easy to accept a salary lower than market-value during the early career stages, but employees who do are likely to continue being underpaid for the duration of their time with that company. If eliminating negotiation is not an option, then women must find their voice and exude enough confidence to negotiate, even when they may be a minority in the workplace.

The difference between pay equity in 2059 and 2152 is vast. As an early career woman, 2059 means I will see pay equity in my lifetime. 2152 means that my grandchildren will. Entering the workforce with awareness of these issues and the confidence to fight for them will make all the difference.

Negotiating Success

Effective negotiation is one of the most critical skills to business success. Yet when asked to select the metaphor that best describes negotiation, most women chose “a trip to the dentist.” Ouch.

Last week Carol Frohlinger, an internationally known speaker and negotiation consultant, led Momentum’s leadership class through negotiation training. What we discovered is that with a new perspective and practice, negotiating can be a rewarding experience.

Some of the top stumbling blocks to negotiating identified by our group were:

  1. Overlooking the opportunity to negotiate
  2. Fear of rejection
  3. Worries about how negotiation will be perceived by others (pushy, needy, greedy)
  4. Difficulty obtaining “buy-in” from stakeholders
  5. Lack of confidence


Carol had the class work in groups to role play real-life negotiations using the framework she published in her book Her Place at the Table using three types of “moves”: Power Moves, Process Moves, and Appreciative Moves.


“Power moves encourage the other party to recognize the need to negotiate in the first place.

Process moves shape the negotiation agenda and dynamic so you can be a more effective advocate.

Appreciative moves engage the other party by fostering both trust and candor in the negotiation.” — Carol Frohlinger


sandy_margaret-annThroughout the day we examined how to gain agreement on the value of the thing being negotiated, and to create understanding that the value cannot be obtained without negotiation. Carol emphasized the importance of enlisting support and owning the process, both essential to managing what she calls the “shadow negotiation.” Finally, we explored ways to frame the talks so that our negotiating partners can “save face,” how to keep a stalled dialog going, and how to gain new perspectives that lead to agreement.

One interesting observation from the class is that women tend to find it easier to negotiate on someone else’s behalf than for themselves. Carol asked the class to imagine the opportunity to negotiate on behalf of someone we really care about:  a sister, a team we manage, a co-worker we respect. It was amazing to see how quickly some women outlined value, owned the process, and clearly stated their case when going to bat for someone else.


Negotiating is complex and highly situational. Having a framework to follow, some practical guidance, and time to share experiences definitely helped this Momentum class up their game.

Attendee Ira Hodges, from HealthSouth, shared these takeaways:

  • Negotiation takes place in every area of our lives
  • It’s okay to negotiate for yourself
  • Find the negotiation strategy that works for you; there’s not no one right way.

For additional tips and resources on negotiating for women, visit Carol Fohlinger’s website


Negotiation Skills Needed

helpWhen it comes to negotiation, women need a big “help wanted” sign. Researcher Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon specializes in negotiation and dispute resolution. Babcock’s research shows women have a strong dislike for negotiation, and they engage far less than men in negotiations that would result in higher salaries and better jobs. In a recent study Babcock asked men and women to pick metaphors that describe the act of negotiating. Women most often equated negotiating with “a trip to the dentist” while men chose “winning a ballgame.” So what’s going on here?
negotiating50ssmSome of the root cause lies in the way many women were raised. In our past, to be outspoken, to challenge authority, to ask for more, was not considered lady-like.  On top of societal norms, add a layer of law. Just one generation ago many states still required a man’s signature for many transactions initiated by a woman. It has only been 28 years since congress passed a law prohibiting states from requiring a man’s signature on a woman’s application for a business loan. Other factors that may add to women’s distaste for negotiation: fear of rejection, lack of confidence, and associating negotiation with greed are just a few.

The lack of negotiating skills among women may be one of the single largest contributing factors to the wage stagnation we’ve seen in the last decade. A recent Pew Research study shows women still make 20% less than men. It’s not surprising that Babcock’s research shows that men are more likely to negotiate starting salaries:

“In one study, eight times as many men as women graduating with master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries. The men who negotiated were able to increase their starting salaries by an average of 7.4 percent, or about $4,000. In the same study, men’s starting salaries were about $4,000 higher than the women’s on average, suggesting that the gender gap between men and women might have been closed if more of the women had negotiated their starting salaries.”

Negotiation affects far more than salary. Solid negotiating skills are needed to succeed in a variety of ways. Want to be assigned to a new and exciting project? You may need to negotiate how your current workload can be delegated. Making a big pitch to a client? You may need to negotiate the terms of the deal. Raising money for a volunteer cause? Good negotiating skills could mean the difference between a $50 and a $5,000 gift. Getting a toddler dressed? That may be the toughest negotiation of all!

carolfrohlingerThis week Momentum welcomes internationally known speaker and negotiation consultant Carol Frohlinger to Birmingham. Carol is co-author of Her Place at the Table and Nice Girls Just Don’t Get ItThis Thursday Carol with conduct an all-day training course for our current Momentum Leadership Class. This training will unpack the skills needed to seize opportunities to negotiate, line up the necessary resources, and gain buy-in from stakeholders.

During the class we’ll hear some of the shared experiences our women have in negotiating. We look forward to sharing those here, along with insights from Carol’s training, next week.