Last month four women who used to work for Nike filed a federal lawsuit against the company, claiming it violated state and U.S. equal-pay laws and fostered a work environment that allowed sexual harassment. According to the complaint, the former employees said that women who work for the company are paid less for doing the same work as their male colleagues, receive smaller bonuses, and are less likely to get promoted.

As disheartening as this news is, unfortunately, it isn't the first or last we'll hear of this behavior. The good news is that women, like the former employees at Nike, are taking a stand and fighting for equality. Despite the progress movements such as #MeToo have made, though, it can still feel overwhelming and intimidating to fight for your worth.  How do you start the conversation? How do you make an unequivocal argument? How do you stay confident and poised?

Below are four strategies to ensure you're equipped to take on whatever obstacle you're facing.

See yourself.

Most often, the root of not standing up for yourself is lack of confidence. Lack of confidence is created from being at the whim of your negative mental chatter. It's also common to emphasize other people's opinions of yourself over your own. If you want to take a stand for yourself, these bad habits need to be reversed. Own your strengths, value them, and don't let other people's opinions shape your own vision of yourself. You need to be your own best advocate, and that starts with your ability to see yourself and like what you see.

Know your worth.

If you want a raise, you need to understand your position's worth in the company. Resources like Glassdoor.com and payscale.com can provide specific salaries for your position or one similar. Also, don't be afraid to ask. Ask friends or family that are in similar positions what they are earning. Ask your male counterparts too. You'd be surprised who can show up and be an ally and advocate.

Come prepared.

You know you're a major asset to your company, so now is the time to prove it -- and don't hesitate to get formal about it and put together a Powerpoint or Excel sheet. Start by keeping a record of everything you've contributed to the company. It can be anything from the percentage of revenue you've increased, to the way in which you boost morale on a daily basis. Consider reviewing your job description and see if it's changed at all. Have you taken on more responsibility outside of your role? Are you working overtime? Make a list of all the ways you're performing outside of your current role and be prepared to speak to those points.

Don't let fear drive your decisions.

If you are scared to lose your job for fear of not finding another one, that thinking will allow you to accept bad treatment as the norm. You must trust in your ability to hustle and find something else, and trust that when a situation is not working for you, it's actually a sign to leave. This fear is often rooted in the discomfort of finding another job. Finding another job is just a skill to learn, and with job-hopping on the rise, it's more important than ever to learn how to manage a job search and do it many times over. If you're clear that you're being mistreated, use this opportunity to become an expert at the job search and build the skills that will prevent you from ever feeling stuck again.  

Published on: Sep 17, 2018