Women like Beyoncé command attention, both on stage and in the boardroom. But channeling your inner Beyoncé starts by avoiding a common and costly mistake most women make in business. Trust the woman who served as the personal attorney for many famous musicians, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Jennifer Justice, better known as JJ, spent years as a music lawyer before founding The Justice Department, a female-focused strategy and law firm. She says the biggest mistake women make in business is not negotiating for themselves.
Justice says that too often, women don’t hire proper representation to negotiate for themselves. They may hire an agent to negotiate business contracts and deals instead of a lawyer or hire a man who doesn’t understand the business perspective they are coming from. Justice says that men often don’t fight for women because they don’t understand what women have to endure in business and life. Not only are women frequently left out of leadership teams, but women are regularly paid less than men. That pay disparity is only getting worse, especially after women were harder hit by the economic effects of COVID-19.
How can women overcome these mistakes and better stand up for themselves? It starts with hiring the right representation. A female lawyer understands the prejudices women face because she has felt them as well. While the power difference with men makes many female clients feel intimidated to ask questions, female representation can create a comfortable environment so that women feel empowered and educated.
Women also need to learn to keep pushing and not settle. Even when women think they are getting the best deal, Justice says they are still making less than men. The first step to asking for more and closing the gap between men and women is to properly value yourself as a female. Too often, women become the worst perpetrators and undervalue themselves. Justice says females have to demand more for themselves and for each other. But women are often insecure and don’t feel confident advocating for themselves. Justice recommends women don’t think of it as representing themselves, but rather representing a higher purpose. Changing your thinking about how you represent yourself and your value can give women more confidence and strength to ask for what they deserve.
Women face an uphill battle in business, no matter the industry. The top mistake they can make is not negotiating for themselves. Don’t just accept what you’ve been offered; know your value and keep pushing. The more women can represent and stand up for each other, the more the gap between men and women will close and the sooner women will begin to earn what they are worth.