Navigate career opportunities in a changing workplace

Few spheres have changed as much for women as the American workplace. According to Pew, women are heads of Fortune 500 companies and occupy more C-suite offices than in previous generations.1

With bigger roles and responsibilities, women have been able to achieve greater earning power than in previous generations, with many becoming their family’s primary breadwinners.

But women still have a long way to go. They earn less than men2 yet live longer.3 And when the demands of work and family collide, it's often women who step back from their careers to care for children or aging parents.

Since maximizing work opportunities is so central to every woman’s financial security, we turned to three leaders at Lincoln Financial to share their perspectives and advice on how women can make the most of their careers.

  • Kristen Phillips re-joined Lincoln after spending three years as the president and CEO of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. She is a senior vice president, and heads up marketing and strategy for the Insurance and Retirement Solutions group.
  • Christine Janofsky, wife and mother of three children under the age of seven, is Lincoln’s chief accounting officer, responsible for the firm’s external reporting.
  • Michele Fedgechin held roles in both finance and marketing before combining them as assistant vice president for Digital Strategy & Planning in Lincoln’s Retirement Plan Services business. She helps advisors and their clients leverage digital tools when planning their financial futures.

Take a look at their best career advice for women.

Don’t be afraid to take risks on opportunities

“I’ve taken risks on opportunities, on companies, on roles, on moving,” says Janofsky. “I’ve moved to states I had never been to other than to fly in for the interview. Those risks make you a better person and make you more marketable and in demand.”

Expect to have a valuable role

“I’m seeing women take on more strategic roles, ones that require longer-term thinking and longer-term planning,” says Fedgechin. “Women are viewed as integral to the success of a business. At the same time, when you go into a business, you’re expected to hit the ground running and produce results right away.”

Learn the art of negotiation

“It’s all about having confidence in the value you bring,” says Phillips. “Know what you’re worth, so when you go into an interview you’re not afraid to ask for it.”

Adds Fedgechin: “If you go into a role, and you think you’re worth an X number of dollars, then that’s what you should ask for. But, be honest about it. Be honest with yourself about your experience and the value it brings to the organization, and what you’re willing to learn.”

Seek out mentors…

“Both mentors and sponsors are important,” says Phillips. “A mentor gives you advice, listens to your challenges and provides thoughts on how to address them. Sponsors are a little different. As they see career opportunities across the organization, they advocate for you and help you advance.”

…especially women a few years ahead of you

“I knew I wanted to have a family but finding that mentorship early on was nearly impossible,” says Janofsky. “Not only were there not a lot of women, there also weren’t a lot of women in leadership positions who were balancing work and family. I had a couple of mentors who did really well in their careers and had families. They were extremely helpful.”

“There are more women in mid-level and senior positions now,” Phillips adds. “For young women today, the sky’s the limit in terms of how far and how high they want to take their careers.”

Find your passion

"Do what you love and the rest will follow,” says Fedgechin. “If you find something you really love and you’re passionate about, you will drive yourself to do better. When you drive yourself to do better, you can’t help but be good at what you’re doing."

1“Women in Leadership.” Pew Research Center. January 14, 2015. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/01/14/chapter-1-women-in-leadership

2“Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States.” U.S. Census Bureau. September 16, 2015. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-157.html

3Storrs, Carina. “Women live longer, but not as well as men…” CNN. March 17 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/health/women-live-longer-more-disabilities-study