Elizabeth Wylie is on a mission to help women make what they’re worth.
Earlier this year, the Snell & Wilmer partner teamed up with businesswoman and friend Diana Mead to launch an education campaign to teach negotiating skills to professional women.
The workshops were inspired by Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, which went into effect in May, as well as the attention the #MeToo movement has brought to women’s work conditions.
“There are not very many workshops out there to teach women how to negotiate their salaries, and it’s an area where many women don’t feel comfortable,” Wylie said.
The pair teamed up with the Colorado Women’s Foundation and the Colorado Women’s Bar Association to hold the first workshops over the summer. Wylie said they will be working with the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the Junior League of Denver to continue the presentations in 2020.
They try to keep the workshops to an hour, she said, but “overwhelming” audience participation has stretched the program longer, often up to two hours. Wylie said there has been lots of positive feedback already, including partners in Denver law firms who have used her negotiation tactics to negotiate their salaries. While lawyers generally have some negotiation skills, “we don’t always use them for ourselves,” she said.
“Empowering women to use those negotiation skills that they have, and then also introducing them to new tactics, has been very well received,” she said.
The initiative was also inspired by Wylie’s own experience in the legal industry. She noticed few women in senior roles and a high attrition rate among female attorneys.
“I didn’t have a lot of role models early on in my career in terms of women,” Wylie said. “Most of my mentors — in fact, all my mentors, thinking back — were men. And I’m very grateful to them, but I also would have benefited from that perspective.”
“Retaining women in the workforce is a big issue, and I think pay equity is an important piece of that retention issue,” she added.