Junior League of Wichita helps bring salary negotiation trainings to the city

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Junior League of Wichita is partnering with local professionals to provide salary negotiation trainings to working women in Wichita. 

Work Smart is a citywide initiative of Junior League and AAUW, American Association of University Women. The organizations have teamed up to provide 24 free salary negotiation trainings through the summer of 2020. 

Local professionals Kim Doze-Lohmann and Kara Hunt collaborated with the AAUW and then reached out to Junior League for a partnership in the project they hope will make Wichita's future even brighter. 

"They're going to walk away with additional confidence in learning to negotiate their salaries," said Doze-Lohmann, "They're going to learn how to articulate their personal value, and what they're bringing to the table."

The trainings will cover topics like how to benchmark the appropriate salary based on job and market, and negotiation tactics. 

The collaboration is an effort to close the gender pay gap. On average, women are paid roughly 80% of what men are paid. 

For minority women, the pay gap is even wider. For every dollar a man makes, a Caucasian woman makes about 77 cents, an African American woman makes 64 cents, and a Hispanic woman makes 56 cents. 

In Wichita, the gap is wider still. The city is below the national average as a woman makes 72 cents to every man's dollar, ranking 42nd in the nation for equal pay. 

Working moms take a hard hit from the pay gap. 

Katie Archibald has three little ones at home. She said the cost of childcare is steep, and when women aren't equally compensated for their work, it can make life hard. 

"It's a challenge for sure, it's expensive. We pay $22,000 a year for our three," said Archibald, "You want to be a good parent, you want to spend time with your family, and you want to be able to get home from work and have that quality time which creates challenges trying to be the best employee, build a business, and also still feel at the end of the day like you're a good mom."

Ashley Gerlach pays $18,000 for quality child care for two children every year, and she has another on the way. 

"When I had my first child I contemplated staying home," said Gerlach, "My husband said 'You're the bread winner, you're going back to work.'"

With millions of families now relying on women to be the main source of income, these women said it's time to fight for equal pay.

"It can be small differences when you start, but those differences will compound over time," said Archibald. "I don't think that men or employers or companies are intentionally trying to hold women back. I think this is a problem that is solvable."

Junior League members agree that a step toward that solution is knowing how to negotiate in the workplace. 

Jade Palisi is a junior league member and a young professional in the Wichita community. She said it took her years to build up the courage to ask. 

"It took six years to finally feel confident in myself to really negotiate for my salary, and I'm an attorney, I do negotiations all day just never really for myself," said Palisi, "As women we're taught to be polite and kind, and there's a way to be polite and kind and still ask for what you're worth."

The women argue that closing the gender pay gap isn't just about individual women, it affects Wichita's economy and ability to attract and keep young talent. 

"We can't grow, we're not going to be able to attract new businesses," said Hunt.

Laura Fischer grew up attending Wichita Public Schools and went on to study at Wichita State University. She said Wichita has great opportunities, but she saw many young professionals leave the city for opportunities in other states. 

"There are so many young people who choose to leave, said Fischer. "[They] often don't come home and that leaves our workforce missing a huge gap of people." 

The league and working women across Wichita encourages every woman to take steps to close the gap. 

"When we invest in women, we are investing in their communities. Strong women raise strong families and they build strong communities," said business owner Rachel Banning. 

Junior League believes teaching one generation of women to be more proactive about their salary will help the city for decades to come.

"I want my daughter to know that she's worth it, and her drive and her skills and her effort matter, and her gender shouldn't come in to play on whether or not she's paid equally and it's not good enough... it's not good enough for her," said Doze-Lohmann. 

To raise funds for events and trainings like Work Smart, Junior League of Wichita will hold their annual fundraiser, Holiday Galleria, October 3-6 at Century II. 

The event includes upscale shopping featuring more than 100 merchants. All proceeds will support Junior League of Wichita’s mission of combating child abuse through awareness, prevention and intervention. 

Since it's start, the League has contributed more than $5.8 million to the Wichita community in the form of community projects and more than $44 million in-kind services in the form of volunteer hours.

To learn more about the event and how to purchase tickits, visit jlwichita.org

To register for one of the free trainings or learn more about hosting a training, visit https://salary.aauw.org/ks-mo/

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