My thoughts on Equal Pay Day

Today is Equal Pay Day. While I initially thought this was a cool concept, the thought of needing to have a recognized day like this in 20-freakin’-17 increasingly has upset me today…

According to the Lean In announcement that informed me that today is Equal Pay Day, women on average are paid 20% less than men in the US. And while it’s great that there are companies offering 20% discounts today, there’s still the underlying issue we face…

The long-term effects of less income…

A couple weeks ago, I sat in on a webinar about retirement planning for women. What was reiterated was that the current pay gap for genders affects not only our current paycheck and lifestyle, but this will continue negatively impacting us for years to come. The webinar leaders threw out numbers to show that in 2014, the average social security income for women 65+ was ~77% of what men got. Turns out when us women are paid less and sometimes take breaks in our careers to care for our kids, that continues to harm us for decades.

That got me thinking about how companies tend to pay a percentage into various benefits. I get a percentage for my 401(k) as do many people in corporate America. Even if US companies solved this complex issue and evened out the gender pay gap today, women would still end up with less in their 401(k)s than male peers due to us having made less up to this point and compounded interest.

Adding to this, the webinar leaders outlined how we’re living longer. We now need to plan for an average of 18 and possibly 30+ years that we don’t want to run out of money in retirement.

And unless you were grandfathered in or have a union job, you’re not likely to get a pension these days. So you’ve got 401(k)s, social security, and your own personal savings and investments to rely on in your retirement years.

Beyond retirement, there are the skyrocketing healthcare costs we’re confronted with. According to the same webinar leaders, healthcare costs go up 5.1% a year. From what I’ve seen, companies are covering less and less; more is coming out of our own pockets. You need to re-route a chunk of your pay into an HSA to even begin to be prepared for your medical bills – even routine ones for healthy people.

Oh, and best wishes with your salary keeping up with these increasing costs. The days of 5%+ annual pay increases seem long gone.

And while we’re on health…

Last summer, I got pregnant. My husband and I discovered during week 6 that the pregnancy was ectopic. Shortly after, we lost our baby. Before the devastation, I had a few weeks of knowing I was pregnant and being thrilled about having a child with my amazing husband. But with that glow, I woke up to some of the issues women face in the workplace that even I – a woman – was ignorant to.

See, I’ve always been all about my work – figuring out how to grow, taking on more and more responsibility, furthering my education, etc. That slowed when I learned I was pregnant. All of the sudden, my health mattered. My need for rest mattered. My desire to stay with my newborn – to take care of him or her longer than FMLA or the limited number of paid weeks my company’s HR policies allow me before having to put my tiny baby in daycare while I go to work – tired, stressed, and praying to God that when my baby cries, he or she is getting attention from the daycare staffmattered.

Our baby was supposed to be due a week and a half ago. The mental anguish of this was awful. While I took vacation time to cover the days I needed to be away for my own personal wellbeing and to cope with the loss of a baby throughout the last nine months, HR policies around bereavement are hard to interpret at times when it comes to loss of babies before their births.

And don’t think that I’m on a rant about my particular company. I work with some amazing people who have been extremely generous to me. But the system is still broken and the issues are still there with today’s status quo.

All of the issues around women’s health, pregnancy, and new mother concerns continue to upset me today. My experience, though unique and especially devastating to me, is something women deal with every day. I hadn’t thought quite as much about what pregnant women and new moms experience in the workplace and it’s incredibly challenging. Yet it’s treated routinely. I’ve seen family members, friends, and colleagues go through some of this, but it’s difficult to relate to what you don’t know or experience yourself. I didn’t fully appreciate what pregnant women and new moms go through until I was wearing the shoes myself.

The alternative…

Sometimes it takes getting so fed up that you finally say “ENOUGH. IS. ENOUGH.” It’s time to make some changes. (This works for more than just diets and weight loss.) When enough people do this, great things can happen. 

A couple years ago, I discovered a community of amazing women and men (but in fairness, mostly women). These folks work incredibly hard and they’re so supportive of one another. They are entrepreneurial-minded and are all working at growing their own businesses because they’d had enough, too. They’d decided that whatever they were doing wasn’t working and they took action. These people got to the point that the fear of and reservations about making a change was outweighed by their disgust at their current situations. 

This community decided that pursuing extra income with Young Living and other network marketing companies – even while working full-time jobs, raising children, and doing other important things – was worth the extra effort.

I’ve decided that growing my Young Living business is worth it, too.

What sets Young Living apart?

  1. There’s no base pay. The idea of one gender earning more than another isn’t even a thing. Your numbers speak for themselves and determine what you make. How well you negotiate your starting salary and fulfill gender stereotypes (or not) has nothing to do with this.
  2. Start at any age. Once you hit 16, you’re in. You didn’t “miss your chance” already. Start and grow your business at 16, 43, 72…
  3. You make your own schedule. Work days, nights, or weekends. If you want to take time off for a family vacation, don’t worry about getting PTO approved. Stay home with your sick kid today and work more next week without needing manager approval.
  4. To get started, you don’t need specific prior work experiences or education. Everyone’s background can help them prepare for a Young Living business in different ways and you can pick up the skills you need and don’t have. You don’t need certifications that your company may or may not pay for. You don’t have an education requirement to meet that affects your earning potential.
  5. As your business grows, you get more and more residual income. Think of this like dividends you’ll continue to get for initial or past work – like when you publish a book. You work hard to get the book out, then you keep getting paid as people buy the book. That’s how Young Living works. And you keep earning as your team and Young Living both grow.
  6. You’re literally compensated for helping others; you’re not competing for the same job or open headcount which can get vicious and vindictive. When your team does well, you do well. When your team hits new ranks and numbers, you see it in your paycheck. This creates a positive, nurturing environment in which people are encouraged to succeed and flourish. That’s much better for your mental health, mood, and stress levels, too.
  7. Young Living never downsizes. You and your colleagues won’t have to fear losing your jobs. You keep working the business as long as you want to.
  8. There are no “performance reviews” where you have to fight for what’s usually a relatively small annual pay increase after working hard for 12 full months. If you want more money, figure out how to grow and hop to it.
  9. Similarly, when you’re ready for a promotion, just do the work to grow. No waiting for an opportunity or headcount to open up. No wondering if your leadership team will deem that you’re tenured and competent enough to move up. No corporate ladder hoops to jump. No subjectivity from others. You set the rules.
  10. You never have to wonder where you stand. You don’t have to figure out what your leadership team is thinking about you, what they have in store for you next, or where they rank you against your peers (and they do do this). If you work hard enough and do well, Young Living shows you the love. Your team and others cheer you on. You get free trips and other goodies to thank you for your hard work. You get profiled on the main website for being a rockstar. Other members come up to you for advice and tell you you’re super cool or want to take a selfie with you.
  11. Take care of who and what you love after you pass. Young Living businesses are willable. After you’re gone, the income from your efforts can go to your family and causes you care about. You’re not limited to being able to offer others only what you were able to earn in your lifetime. As Young Living continues to grow and people in your team grow their teams, income increases and is paid to who – or what – you leave it to. All of this without legal technicalities or fine print relating to how you pass, your healthcare conditions, what you paid into insurance or retirement, etc.
  12. Young Living’s products promote a healthy lifestyle and empower people to live lives focused on wellness. Yes, there are a ton of amazing products out there people support in various companies. But how many of those products directly impact your wellbeing and that of your family aside from a financial standpoint? How many help you take care of yourself to avoid incurring more of the increasing healthcare costs?

What’s the catch?

It’s hard work. It takes time and effort. Nobody is going to hand this to you or do this for you. That’s the catch. Still, people today (and in days past) are deciding to pursue the Young Living business. And some of these people are doing extremely well. Like multi-millions a year well.

The average annual income from 2015 for the highest rank (Royal Crown Diamond) was over $1.7 million. I’m willing to bet when 2016’s numbers are announced, that average goes up. Lowest ranks (Stars) earned on average just shy of $80/month.  The middle rank (Gold) earned an average of $72,504/year. The opportunity is equal for all genders. (See 2015 income disclosure.)

And unlike so many franchises and entrepreneurial opportunities with high start-up costs, you’re not going to bury yourself in debt to get started with Young Living. A $160 premium starter kit makes you a member and orders of $100 a month qualify you for all possible monthly commissions and bonuses. Nothing extra. Nothing hidden. Low risk. Quit any time. No commitments.

However, your income potential is unlimited. Young Living is growing and expected to continue growing. Considering all the products Young Living offers in the health and wellness markets (functional nutrition, personal healthcare, beauty, hygiene, consumer devices, services/information, natural health, etc.), Young Living has opportunity in a multi-billion-dollar set of industries. That’s not changing anytime soon.

The latest figures I saw indicated that Young Living has about 1.5 million active members. Considering there are nearly 326 million people in the US and 7.5 billion people in the world, there’s plenty of room to continue growing in the global market you have available to you with Young Living.  Plus, no earning or commission caps; the sky’s the limit.

Yet somehow despite all these great facts, YLers are in the minority. We’re “weird” or “crunchy” or “witch doctors” or “invested in pyramid schemes.” To them, I say: There’s an endless list of companies and startups that some laughed at until the world saw them completely revolutionize industries, business practices, and ways of life. Uber and Lyft are just one example in one industry. Young Living and the network marketing way of life is no different. …And the pyramid scheme thing, well, look at an org chart for a corporation. Looks pretty pyramid-y to me…

I get it. People hold back on jumping in because change is scary. Change naturally fuels and excites some while it terrifies others. And in all honesty, building a Young Living business is, as I said, a lot of work. Again, that’s the real “catch” – no matter what you read or what others tell you, doing an hour a week in network marketing won’t lead to making millions and retiring on an island in a year. To get into this business and do well, you work hard. You put the hours in. You sacrifice. You are constantly learning to grow. You’re figuring things out. You’re making your own rules. You’re building a team. You’re overcoming challenges and frustration. But it’s so worth it.

It’s about the future. It’s about freedom. It’s about having choices when the greater majority doesn’t feel the need to even the playing field; it’s about equality. And it’s about being able to focus on what matters most to you – family, health, friends, faith, helping others, financial freedom, pursuing passions

In closing…

It’s not enough to cheer on women and equality from the sidelines or from behind a screen. It’s about action. It’s about community.

It’s not enough to run a business and say to the women who work for you that you “care” when you don’t do anything that actually helps or empowers them; when you don’t put HR policies into practice that level the playing field.

I’m building my Young Living business for myself and my family, but I’m also doing this to help spur change for others who are frustrated with their options and willing to work hard to pave a new path.

Women make up over half of the US population according to the latest US Census. That’s a whole heck of a lot of people to demand major changes and pursue alternative options if we’re upset enough to do new things.

Cliche or not, as Jerry Maguire said: “If anybody else wants to come with me, this moment will be the moment of something real and fun and inspiring…and we will do it together. …Who’s comin’ with me?

Join me in the alternative. Join me and let’s work hard to build our Young Living businesses for a better future. For freedom. For options. And if for nothing else, to take a stand that options which truly promote equality matter.

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