When a mild-mannered bureaucrat gets fired up

woman, beach, birds, sunset

This week, I thought I would introduce myself and share a bit of insight into what I love doing most and why it’s so important to me. My name is Joanne, and I am fired up about helping women build the confidence they need to negotiate for more money, more benefits, and more flexibility.

I’ve been mentoring women for almost 20 years. I used to joke that my calling in life is to grow leaders; today, that is one of the first phrases that you’ll find on my website banner, and the idea is the foundation for the imagery I use. I’ve spent 15 years working in the public service, always on a leadership track, always building people up along the way. In my last public service role, I made a job out of building diversity, innovation, and leadership capacity within the next generation of public service leaders. It was by far the coolest job in government.

For the past 10 months, I have been in a different role – one where I’ve had the freedom to think, write, and use my voice to talk about issues that matter to me. This space gave me the opportunity to return to my roots, to my interest in advancing equality, growing leaders, and working unapologetically to create opportunities for women and other equity-seeking leaders.

I invested my summer in integrating the negotiation components of a university course that I teach with the social and emotional coaching elements that I apply with clients and colleagues experiencing fear and a reluctance to negotiate. I’ve just opened the first beta test group for my new 4-week program for women, and I’m excited about learning from this group of smart and ambitious women so I can scale my offerings and get this content into the hands of every woman who needs it.

I have sucked at negotiation too.

In my own life, I’ve avoided negotiations because I was desperate to move jobs or fearful of the implications. I have negotiated poorly – giving away my bargaining chips, not clarifying my needs. And I have learned how to use the superpower of empathy to negotiate fairly, effectively, and confidently. It is all of these experiences – and those that I have gathered from women who have shared their stories with me – that have informed my work.

Why now?

Recent setbacks that the world has witnessed, including the recovery of thousands of Indigenous children’s bodies at former residential schools across Canada, the clawing back of reproductive rights in Texas, and the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan have fuelled the fire in my belly. As a public servant, I always held to the convention that we needed to be anonymous, to work quietly behind the scenes. Although I had a LinkedIn profile, I really didn’t ever say anything. But I’ve recognized that my choice to stay silent felt like I was condoning acts that fell on the wrong side of the arc of justice. I just couldn’t stay silent anymore.

For me, these examples are all rooted in an unequal distribution of wealth, power, influence, and autonomy towards privileged men and away from everyone else. I focus on women because that is the experience I know (but I am committed to learning more every day about how to better support trans and non-binary, and BIPOC leaders). The reality is that when women have financial autonomy, their voices are heard more loudly. When they can afford to run for office or support political actors, their views shift perspectives. And when perspectives shift in favour of equality, we all win. This begins with eliminating systemic barriers. And my part in that is teaching women to overcome the social conditioning that prevents them from negotiating effectively.

How can you get involved?

If these topics fire you up and you want to chat about how we might work together, please email me and let’s talk. That includes if you’re looking to interview me for your podcast, Instagram live event, or article. It includes speaking gigs, guest blogger articles, and opportunities to dream and scheme to make the world a better place.

Keep learning!

If you are interested in growing your negotiation skills, sign up below to get my weekly newsletter, which features information, education, and learning opportunities that can help you negotiate more effectively. It’s free and you can opt out at any time. In the meantime, you can read more of my blogs on negotiation.

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