Talking about money is rarely an enjoyable experience. Conversations with peers or colleagues can quickly spiral as it transpires one earns more or less than the other, leaving awkward tensions in their wake. Asking for money is typically even less fun. And so, a culture of awkwardness and reticence when it comes to speaking about money has been passed along, whether through osmosis or by force from industry higher-ups.
“The money conversation for some reason is a really difficult conversation for people to have,” says Laura Jordan Bambach, president and CCO at Grey London, and founder of SheSays, the network for women in the creative industries. “There have certainly been times where I’ve been uncomfortable, but there’s also certainly been times where it has very clearly not been equitable between me and perhaps someone else.
“I think from my own personal experience, particularly my experience with SheSays, which has been running now for 15 years, it is culturally harder for women to talk about money, and I would say anyone who is from a group that’s poorly represented, partly because their experiences of talking about money have been so negative,” she says, explaining that “there is a price that you pay” coming into the industry from underrepresented groups or backgrounds.
“You get this thing of, ‘oh women just need to get more confidence’, and actually there is a risk associated with being a woman and speaking up that there isn’t necessarily for a man, in my opinion. There’s the potential backlash, and there’s a bunch of micro-aggressions that happen, and culturally also maybe you come from a place where money’s a really difficult thing to talk about.”