Finance sector

How is recognition in a recession as motivating as money for successful business women?

It won’t pay the bills and you certainly can’t eat it during a recession. However, recognition can be as motivating as money for many of the women I work with. This can be useful in a recession, as many sectors face an effective pay freeze and relative wage erosion caused by inflation.

Plus, while it doesn’t pay, getting recognition now helps ensure you are more visible. That counts when people are again ready to consider promotions, higher-profile projects, and eventual pay increases.

Three reasons to focus on recognition when the money’s tight in a recession:

1. Money is not a primary motivator:

When I wrote my first book ‘Beyond the Boys Club’,  I constantly met professional women who, while grateful for a good pay package, talked about the other things that drove them. This is important to remember as we enter what feels like a recession. No matter which male-dominated field in which they operated, most found deeper meaning in their work.

Their work directly helped others, even initially just their colleagues. But it helped address a curious gap they’d had in their knowledge or gave them a sense of satisfaction in accomplishment.

What initially drew you to the field that you are still passionate about?

2. The stimulation of money alone reduces over time:

I often ask professional women in male-dominated fields about their proudest moments. I’ve yet to hear a woman talk of a pay rise or an unexpected bonus. This is vital as they are rarely handed out during a recession. Most talk about how much more they’ve gotten out of the recognition they receive, either via pro-bono work, outreach work in their field or supporting colleagues.

Indeed, a study of professionals described in Harvard Business Review found that of professionals working at least 60 hours per week; in ‘extreme jobs’, financial compensation was much less motivating for women than it was for their male colleagues. 

Rather, it was the intellectually stimulating and challenging aspects of their work that these women, like my coaching clients, loved. That’s that encouraged them to devote long hours to their roles. Indeed, while there were fewer women in these extreme jobs, it wasn’t due to lack of interest.

Women cited their disproportionate familial responsibilities as the main hurdle to giving even more to the work they loved.

What type of recognition is most validating to me?

3. Ensure others see your impact before future offers are on the table :

Use the economic downturn or a recession to take a note of all your responsibilities. That shouldn’t be hard. The same study above found that women were much less likely to take jobs that were time-demanding but without a great deal of responsibility or personal satisfaction. 

By contrast, men were more tolerant of such long hours and low-impact roles if their compensation was great enough. Ensure that you are record-keeping your areas of responsibility – even the ones you aren’t getting paid for.

The extra things you have historically done around the office. Even if you are paid for them – these could be added to the ‘skills’ section of your CV. For example, mentoring,  a role routinely done by women could be described on your resume as ‘liaising with and supporting junior staff and cross-departmental colleagues.’

Ask yourself:

How could I highlight even my unpaid skills better so that others notice my achievements?

Shopping Cart