Alumna speaks at symposium to empower women in the workplace

Sep 17, 2019
Jennifer Blundon (Lindabury)

Jennifer (Lindabury) Blundon ’01 was given the opportunity to present at this year’s Women in Leadership Symposium in Chicago. The event was run by the Illinois Diversity Council and the National Women’s Council to help women be more successful in their careers.

This year, the councils chose the theme of “Center Stage: Standing out and speaking up.”

According to Blundon, “This event serves to empower women in business through knowledge, networking and furthering the goals of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

She and other panel members discussed “the array of challenges and opportunities for women in leadership.”

During the event, Blundon spoke about how to approach a negotiation for a raise or promotion.

“This subject is one that drives a lot of anxiety for folks and we need to change the discussion around how employees evaluate themselves objectively and drive meaningful conversations with their supervisors around development,” Blundon said.

Blundon explained how she uses the acronym CAKE, which stands for courage, assessment, knowledge and enough, to teach women how to start these conversations with their employers.

Blundon said, “These discussions take courage but they don’t have to be difficult.”

Next, she said, it is helpful to do an objective assessment of your performance. “Don’t just think you’re doing a great job — know you are before approaching this conversation,” she said.

Knowledge and knowing the data is also important; this will help you create realistic expectations.

Lastly, she discussed the concept of enough. “There is no scarcity model for success. Do not fall prey to assuming that if someone else succeeds that there is less left for you. Remove emotion from these discussions and be objective about your skills and contributions. Determine what is ‘enough’ for you. Pay and title are one aspect of recognition but there are other incentives and development opportunities that can be discussed.”

Blundon was happy to participate in the Women in Leadership Symposium and help women advance in their careers.

“I’m passionate about this topic because financial independence for women is important and empowering,” said Blundon. “I also believe there are misconceptions that these are inherently difficult or daunting conversations. I wanted to give guidance to women who may be earlier in their career about how to step back, be objective and come to these discussions heavier on the facts than on the feelings. These discussions should be a normal part of your cadence of feedback and planning with your supervisor.”