I remember the last chat with my manager about salary vividly. I walked in thinking of the progress I made, the impact I generated for the business, and all those times I went the extra mile. But I still had doubts.
“Do I really deserve a raise? Is this the right time to bring it up?”
The self-doubt snowballed from there. “Actually, I’m just lucky those projects went so well. I should be grateful to the team and keep my mouth shut. Others would’ve done my job much better than I did. Why am I even in this room? I should’ve just cancelled this salary meeting.”
Whether or not you’ve suffered from imposter syndrome, you’d probably agree that money conversations tend to be uncomfortable. There’s never a perfect time, market value is always in flux, and defending your specific contributions can be hard to pinpoint.
This is especially the case for women, who are more likely to experience imposter syndrome and—surprise, surprise—struggle to negotiate. The result: women ultimately earn less. The latest Payscale research shows that in 2019 for each dollar men made, women made only $0.79.
It’s a widespread problem, and someone’s hit on a solution.
How can we fix the gender pay gap?
Meggie Palmer loved her job as a foreign correspondent. She traveled the world and met fascinating people—from Syrian president Bashar Assad to Hollywood star Brad Pitt. Then she found out she was earning substantially less than her fellow colleague.
Obviously Meggie wasn’t happy about this, but when she raised it with her boss she was basically told: "If you don’t like it, you can quit or you can take us to court." So Meggie made a hard decision
She left, and PepTalkHer was born.
Meggie went on a mission to close the gender pay gap and help women foster their careers. She didn’t want other women to go through what she’d experienced. Through her conversations, she quickly realized that pay inequality was a massive issue likely affecting millions of women worldwide. By listening to other women, she saw a big opportunity.
“People wanted to talk about it with me. They wanted to share their stories, and most importantly they were seeking advice on how to approach this type of situation.”
Today, PepTalkHer is a growing community of over 25,000 professional women. By better understanding their own worth, these women are starting to get paid for the value they create—with some negotiating raises of $10k, $20k, even upwards of $80k so far.
Here’s how Meggie does it.
Using tech to grow a community
Meggie knew she needed help to reach and nurture her audience. It was a big question from the start: “How can we use tech to scale the help and support we offer women during challenging times at work?”
To find the answer, Meggie started by building a community by getting the world out on social media and building an email list. Pretty simple.
She also turned to experts from leading universities like Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia to accelerate her research on how to tap tech for her project. They came up with a concept based on nudge theory, helping women to create big changes by taking small steps on a regular basis towards their goals.
Then she built the PepTalkHer app to help women track the work they do. “It’s like a Fitbit for your career,” as Meggie put it. They can record accomplishments and value added to the business, upload photos of events and key moments, and track the feedback they receive. And with the push of a button, all of those wins can be exported and taken into a performance review to help advocate and negotiate their worth.
There’s also a free cheat sheet you can download to fine tune negotiation skills, along with lots of other useful resources on the PepTalkHer blog.
Beyond their digital presence, Meggie also organizes in-person monthly events and brand partnerships across the US, Europe, and Australia. This includes Negotiation Negroni Nights with Campari, because who wouldn’t want to improve their negotiation skills with a negroni in hand?
And finally, there’s the B2B component. PepTalkHer works with Fortune500 companies to retain female talent by running emerging leadership programs and workshops focused on overcoming imposter syndrome and improving negotiation skills at work.
Amazing progress on the outward facing side of things. Read on to learn how Meggie superpowers her team on the inside.
Bootstrapped teams needed automated workflows
At the moment, PepTalkHer is a team of four full-time staff and around eight contractors all based in different places: New York, San Francisco, Manila, Kyiv. Meggie hasn’t taken any funding—she’s bootstrapped the whole thing. So it’s essential for them to make their workflows as efficient as possible.
One way they do this is by automating content generation for the PepTalkHer blog. With the help of Zapier and using their favorite tech stack—Slack, G Suite, Typeform and Squarespace—Meggie populates their blog with stories from inspirational women.
“This integration saves me hours of work. Instead of 5 steps, I just add one email address to a Slack message.”
How does it work? Every time she meets a potential candidate, she gets her email and then:
She adds the email address into a Slack channel.
A Zapier integration zaps the email from Slack into Gmail, triggering a pre-written email that starts: “Hey there! We’re so excited to profile you on the blog, here’s a link…”
The link opens a typeform asking key questions for the post. You can see it for yourself here, even fill it out if you’ve got a story to share:
The typeform is integrated with Google Sheets, which automatically drops the responses into a spreadsheet.
An integration with Squarespace automatically takes the info from Google Sheets and turns it into a preformatted blog post on their website.
Meggie and her team do their homework on each tool they use. She gives an example, “When it comes to forms, I checked all options. Obviously there’s Google Forms, which is free. But frankly it’s just not sexy. It’s not professional enough.” Here’s why it matters:
“When you have a strong brand positioned as premium, it’s really important that every form of communication speaks your language.”
She continues, leaving no doubt about how important this is:
“How can everyone who interacts with me, my staff, our website, our Instagram—at any touchpoint with PepTalkHer— have a positive experience? People need to walk away feeling like their life is better because of those interactions.”
I couldn’t agree more.
And I’m thinking about those other 25,000 women who’ve upped their game to add up to $80k to their salaries. So I’ve already downloaded the app, and committed to upping my game before my next last salary negotiation.