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Women Must Remember It’s Equal Pay Day Today and Commit to Forward Movement

April 10, 2018

Inspiration and Advice on Equal Pay Day for Women

On a hot summer day in Central New York, I walked into a conference room at Burnet Park Zoo to provide testimony to New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. Never being shy to speak on behalf of women entrepreneurs, I entered the room slightly nervous about what I had to share with the panel of women conducting the testimony. I was prepared and first on the agenda. Most of the other speakers were women who worked in corporate or non-profit settings as employees or bosses, I was there as a woman entrepreneur who could set her own pay rate and work as hard as she needed to make more money. I thought to myself, “Why was I asked to speak? Don’t they think like the world female owned companies shouldn’t complain about unequal pay because they set their own pricing and rules?”

Well women entrepreneurs can set their own pay rate and fees but that doesn’t mean our consumers or marketplace will buy from us or agree we are “worth” the prices we set. Within our fee are basic costs of running a business, staff salaries, insurance fees, paper supplies, product development and more. We can’t just set a price, take all the earnings for ourselves and build up our bank account quickly. It doesn’t work that way in self employment. Yet time and again, I heard from hundreds of women entrepreneurs at my events that they were barely making ends meet as entrepreneurs and were struggling financially. I knew what they meant because there were times I had struggled financially over 23 years of entrepreneurship.

So with my research and prepared remarks, I sat down at the proceedings table with a microphone at my mouth and took my pink reading glasses by the hand and put them on my face saying, “I have to wear my pink glasses because I only see things through the lenses of being a woman and representing women.” I think I caught their attention with the motion and then began this speech,

“My name is Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham, the Founder and President of Women TIES, LLC, which stands for Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success, founded on March 3, 2005, during women’s history month. For the past 13 years, Women TIES has specialized in promoting, publicizing and uniting New York State women entrepreneurs and their companies online and in person in order to cultivate strong economic relationships to advance their companies, and help eradicate pay inequality. Yes, you heard it right “help eradicate pay inequality” is literally part of my company’s mission statement.

Ever since becoming a woman entrepreneur 22 years ago with my first company I have surrounded myself with other women business owners and know this niche very well, so well I have received many awards including “Women in Business Champion” awards from the USA Syracuse Business District – one in 2005 and another in 2011. I do not tell you this to boost but to have you understand my deep and unwavering commitment to help women entrepreneurs succeed.

In fact, my personal mission statement for 22 years has been to help women become more financially successful by encouraging them to put their money in the hands, pocket books and bank accounts of other women first and foremost to increase their individual revenue and assist this generation of women and the ones to follow to have a more financially successful future.

The main reason behind my unique “feministic” approach to business lies in the pay inequality issue that has plagued women for centuries and continues today. Women do not earn the same as men in Corporate America or for Woman Owned Companies and the government has not done enough to equal the playing field for women by passing an equal pay bill to ensure women, who make up 52% of our population, receive fair salaries compared to men.

Women similar to me choose entrepreneurship as a career for five main reasons based on many articles I have read on this subject online. According to the readings, my own experience and speaking with thousands of women entrepreneurs the past two decades, women become entrepreneurs because they

1. Want to be challenged
2. Desire independence
3. Want a flexible work schedule
4. Yearn to Balance work and life duties
5. AND Expectation for higher earnings

Women may find success in the first 4 reasons but not in the fifth one of higher earnings because:

1. Women set their expectations and salaries against the benchmark of salaried women which are earning less than men.

2. We lack confidence when we look at historical data perspectives on the financial success of women.

3. Women tend to negotiate themselves down in contract pricing.

4. There is pronounced gender segregation in types of businesses men and women start.

5. AND only 42% of women vs. 57% of men pay themselves a salary.

These situations were true for me as well:

* I left an Assistant Director position at a local college after having my second son and work from home.

* I have never giving myself a set salary. I put the money back into my businesses or helped save for my two son’s college expenses as equally as my husband.

* I own a service business which demands a lower hourly rate than a woman in a technology, science or product type business.

I’m happy with my career choices but wish – not only for myself – but for the thousands of women entrepreneurs I have represented over two decades that there was Equal Pay for Women law so we had justification for asking a certain hourly wage based on our education, experience expertise and a rate comparable to our corporate sisters in the marketplace.

I honestly believe equal pay will only happen for professional career women whether entrepreneurs or employees – if our great nation finally creates and passes an Equal Pay Act Law. The important word in all that I have stated is the word “law.”

I urge you and your congress members this year – 2017 – the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New York State, to finally pass a law for equal pay just like it passed a law for women to vote.

Women couldn’t wish to vote. We had to have it be a law. Women can’t wish to receive equal pay. It must become a law. That law will help not only women, but families earn more which in turns helps them contribute in greater ways to our local and national economy.”

I thanked them for their time and left feeling proud of my speech and representation of women I knew.

So today on Equal Pay Day, I hope you share this blog post on your social media marketing pages, talk about the subject with other women you know and make a considered effort to buy from women every single change you have until one day the government officially passes an Equal Pay Day bill.

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