By Rachel Stevenson
The Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry hosted their annual Women’s Professional Development Conference on Tuesday at QVC Studio Park in West Chester.
The event, titled “Elevate Your Career,” focused on financial disparities between men and women in Chester County, strategies for increasing self-worth and asking for equal pay, and basic skills to improve non-verbal communication in the workplace.
According to Michelle Legaspi Sanchez, Executive Director of the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls (CCFWG), the Blueprint report is “the first and only comprehensive needs assessment of women and girls in Chester County.”
Michelle explained the three key trends most apparent: “The percentage of households of mothers who are breadwinners have increased dramatically, more women are achieving higher education degrees (although lower in minority groups), [but] poverty is still an issue for us here in Chester County.”
In fact, “two out of five single moms in Chester County are living below the poverty level.”
There are many reasons for the financial disparities between men and women, but the key theme at this event was that women often don’t exude the confidence, non-verbal skills, or know-how to ask for what they’re worth.
Kenya Jacobs, Ikea’s US Compensation Manager, offers this advice: “If you know your worth, don’t lowball your salary [request].”
Sarah Caruso, who empowers, elevates and impacts women through her company, The Power of Influence, explains, “Women allow voices to live rent free in their mind that they’ve inherited from their journey.”
She states that “it’s up for us to decide how long we want those voices to stay.”
She goes on to explain, “we put security systems on our homes, jewelry in our safes, yet we let anyone come into our mind and affect our choices.” S
he encourages women to set boundaries and create a personal security system to increase our self-worth and belief in ourselves.
The final speaker of the afternoon, Carol Vallone, of Talent Strategy Partners and author of Breaking through Bitch, said, “in order to be yourself you really have to know yourself.”
A scientist and research, Vallone describes the top six characteristics that are common in successful women leaders: empathy, self-awareness, inclusiveness, inclusiveness, erasing hierarchical boundaries, cultural and political savvy, and communicating insights. She presses that women can use this data to leverage for higher salaries.