Bâtonnage: Women in Wine is a US-based forum for women working in the wine industry. This year, the use of Zoom allowed women around the world to participate in three-day event. The issues covered included harassment, mentorship and ownership – and money.
On 23 June, ARENI Global @ Batonnage ran a session called All Cards On The Table, looking at the thorny issue of money. Pauline Vicard, the CEO of ARENI, moderated a panel including Felicity Carter, Executive Editor at Pix, and Jordan Sale, founder of 81cents, an organisation that offers clients tactical advice and personalised feedback, to help them negotiate a better deal.
The first topic I’d like to explore today is pay gaps. Jordan, your job is to help candidates evaluate job offers. Women still earn 81 cents for every dollar that men earn on average. And the statistics look even more dismal when you consider race and underrepresented gender identities. Why do we still have these big gaps?
Obviously this is one of my favourite topics to talk about, but also one that is complex and frustrating and emotional. I wish I had a clear, concise answer I could give, but sadly there’s not just one reason. There are several. Negotiation certainly does play a role. For example, men tend to negotiate three times more frequently than women. There are lots of reasons behind this. One example is that women aren’t necessarily taught that they can negotiate, or taught that it is not proper or not professional to talk about money.
One of the most illustrative examples of this is when asked to compare negotiations to another activity in life, the majority of men compared negotiating to like playing a game, and a majority of women compared it to going to the dentist. Of course, how people are perceived in the negotiation process varies as well. Women and people of colour are not expected to negotiate as aggressively as white men and so what you receive on the other side of the table can be different.
When asked to compare negotiations to another activity in life, the majority of men compared negotiating to like playing a game, and a majority of women compared it to going to the dentist.Jordan Sale, Founder, 81 Cents
Apart from negotiation, there are also differences in how individuals are received throughout the entire interview process, which could impact what sort of level you get brought in at, and your subsequent promotion and raise opportunities.
And then of course, there’s the idea that while workforces tend to look more diverse, more inclusive, earlier in careers, as you see individuals become more senior, you see the ranks become less and less diverse. Women tend to drop out of the workforce or certain individuals aren’t given the same promotion raise opportunities that others are.
And when we talk about a number like 81 cents, they’re basically averaging all men who are working against the average for all women who are working. The stats look even more dismal when you bring race into the equation; Black women are 63 cents on the dollar, Latina women earn under 60 cents.
There is also that vicious circle, that when you have someone who has been to the same school, who’s already in place in the company, then you can liaise with them and ask them how much. You’ve got someone on the inside.
The candidates that you help, what do they need, or what do you say the most? Is it confidence? Is it skills? Is it information? What’s the first thing you work on with them?
I find that confidence and information really go hand in hand. If you’re trying to negotiate and you don’t have a sense of market rates, you don’t have a sense of data, then that’s really going to impact your confidence. Where we focus in on 81 cents is trying to get candidates the information they need. And we see that that in turn leads to an increase of confidence. But I would say for the candidates we support the absolute hardest part is the ask, and giving themselves permission to ask, feeling that it’s okay to ask. It’s actually not that hard to do. There’s a formulaic way that you can approach negotiations.
I find that confidence and information really go hand in hand. If you’re trying to negotiate and you don’t have a sense of market rates, you don’t have a sense of data, then that’s really going to impact your confidence.Jordan Sale, Founder, 81 Cents
It’s not something that we’re taught how to do in school, but it is this very fundamental piece of professional life that is key to you increasing your earning power. When you negotiate just very first job out of school, for example, that could, on its own, lead to a million-dollar difference in lifetime earnings.
Felicity, you once said that one of the biggest mistakes freelancers in wine make is seeing themselves as wine people first, not as journalists or educators first. Could you elaborate on this?
Over the course of my career, I haven’t just reported on wine. I’ve also reported on things like the arts as well, and discovered that the best way to get yourself stuck in a really poorly paid position is to be in love with the thing. A lot of people are so grateful to be in wine that they don’t stop and think of themselves as business people or as freelancers, and this is a really important distinction.
In 2019, I happened to be involved in a conversation about the number of people who were working for free in the wine industry and the level of volunteering that was expected. At the time I was editor of a business magazine, so I thought, oh, this is a really great topic for a business article, and I put out a call for people to tell me their stories. I was absolutely inundated. I got more than 125 people within 24 hours contacting me, both from the UK and the US. I didn’t go ahead with the article because the thing that I discovered wasn’t that the wine trade was demanding that people work for free or that people volunteer. It was that the level of small business skill in the wine industry was extremely low. People were accepting jobs without thinking along the lines of things like, can I afford to do this? What’s this going to cost me if I do it? What will it contribute to my career?
The best way to get yourself stuck in a really poorly paid position is to be in love with the thing.Felicity Carter, Executive Editor, Pix
A lot of people are so grateful to be in wine that they don’t stop and think of themselves as business people or as freelancers. One of the first things you need is small business skills. If you are going to go out as a freelancer, you have to think of yourself as a business person.
Too many people were thinking, “I’m so honoured to have this opportunity”. Another thing is not being able to distinguish between your social life and your work life. And, of course, the wine trade is very convivial. You go out and you drink together. You spend a lot of time together. And so there’s this collapse of the understanding that you’re actually here to be employed or to run a business. And that distinction between being social and being business like is really costing people. It’s literally costing people money. So what I found is that because people felt very friendly towards other people, and because they’d been out drinking with them, they weren’t able to negotiate what they needed.
People would agree to do tastings, but they wouldn’t factor in how long it took them to drive to the place. They wouldn’t factor in whether they needed to stay overnight. They wouldn’t factor in the preparation time. They’d simply ask for two hours’ worth of pay. And then they were shocked and surprised at the end to discover that actually they weren’t making money at all.
One of the first things you need is small business skills. If you are going to go out as a freelancer, you have to think of yourself as a business person.
The other thing that I saw over and over again was women agreeing to do something because they felt they were team players.I spoke to a lot of men as well. A lot of men would just walk away. They’d go, “Nope. I can’t afford to work for that. No, I’m not going to accept that money. No, that rate’s not good”. And then they would walk away, whereas women would try and make it work. They would feel like, “well, I understand their point of view. I understand that they don’t have a lot of money.” Men don’t think like that at all. They think, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. They walk away. And walking away is really important in being able to command a market price.
Walking away is really important in being able to command a market price.Felicity Carter, Executive Editor, Pix
One of the other things I should say that I’ve seen a lot of my career, is that women are very diligent. Boys often don’t perform very well at school because they’re restless and they don’t want to do stuff. Teachers love girls. Girls sit still and they do their homework. All the way through school, girls are rewarded for being diligent. They literally get prizes at the end of school. And then they go to university and they get great marks and they might get prizes again. They go into the workforce and they have this pattern of being quiet, working really hard and waiting for the prize.
And when you’re in the workspace, the prize never comes. The reward for being diligent, competent and not speaking up is they give you more work to do. Whereas guys have learned that they don’t have to do the things that they don’t want to do. They can kind of skate through on those things and concentrate on the things they’re really good at.
The reward for being diligent, competent and not speaking up is they give you more work to do.Felicity Carter, Executive Editor, Pix
Women get overwhelmed with work because they’re being punished for their competency, and then they get to middle management. And I’ve seen so many women who refuse to take promotions because they think: “Every time I go up, the ladder, all it happens is I get more work and I don’t get to see my kids. If I take this promotion, then life’s going to be miserable.” They don’t realise that when you get to the top, life becomes great, because now you’re in control of your own diary. You’re in control of your own budget. You can delegate the things that you don’t like to other people. So this consequence of being diligent and taking on lots of work really kills women. There comes a point where they’re just burnt out and they’re sick of it and they don’t get the thing that they’ve worked towards.
Jordan, 2021 has been a hard year for many people. Can you negotiate in 2021?
Yes, definitely. I think a lot of times women view negotiations very emotionally, very personally. “The people that I’m working for, I’m part of their family. I don’t want to put pressure on them by asking for more money.” This is a generalisation, but men tend to view it much more rationally. This is a business, this is my livelihood. What I worry about with a year, like the one that we’ve been having is that women are the ones who are, “You know, it’s been tough for everyone. I’m not going to ask, we’re all struggling here. I don’t want to impose on anyone.”
To answer that question directly, yes, you can still negotiate. The labour markets are super weird right now, but there’s a ton of demand.
When you advise your candidate to acquire the negotiation mindset, that includes being rejected. Could you elaborate on that?
There’s a famous TED talk about getting used to rejection. What this person does is decide to go out and get rejected. Every day for a year they ask people for wild things. Within a few weeks, the rejection didn’t sting any more.
Another thing that tends to work well for women is thinking about what will you do with that increase in money? If you had $15,000 more, what would that mean for your family?
We have to acknowledge it’s hard to talk about money. What is there to gain in developing more transparency?
I’m a huge proponent of transparency. I think transparency almost always benefits candidates, and, a lot of employers are very opposed to it. The argument I’ve heard is that if people find out what other people are making and they don’t have that context for why, that they’ll jump to the wrong conclusions. I think candidates are smart enough to figure that out. I think people like don’t want to necessarily get mad at their employers. No one wants to feel like they’re being underpaid. You know, if you find out that someone’s earning more than you, the questions that come up are why, like, how did this happen? And you start digging and maybe you get answers that you’re satisfied with and it feels okay.
This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. It is only a section of a wide-ranging, fascinating conversation that is well worth a listen.
Bâtonnage is a US-based initiative stirring up the conversation on Women and Wine. Its annual forum brings together wine professionals as well as wine industry supporters to discuss and act on the unique challenges and opportunities that women in wine have faced both historically and present-day.
The Bâtonnage forum is a three-day event happening both digitally and physically in Sonoma, California. For more information on the programme, how to access the rest of the sessions or how to support the mentorship programme, visit www.batonnageforum.com
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As a warm-up for this conversation, we meet Andrew Jefford, an award-winning journalist, wine writer and educator, and one of the only major figures in an otherwise opaque industry to publicly reveal his revenue and earnings. We discuss writing, negotiation power and transparency, and how to define one’s worth in today’s wine world.
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This conversation is part of ARENI’s publication 12 Conversations: Different Ways of Looking at Sustainability, published in September 2022, available to all.