Yesterday, a big pink and white bus pulled onto the campus of University of Miami. It is known as the “Confidence Is Beautiful” Bus and it's on a mission to build confidence in women and young girls.
It's a cool concept and the message it is spreading is important. Shelley Zalis, the founder of the bus, known more formally as The Ipsos Girls’ Lounge, wants women to feel confident in the workplace and build connections with each other that will help them advance. Her 40 ft. pink and white bus is decked out with a ‘confidence signature’ selfie station, hair and makeup stations AND there's an area of the bus where women can go for work/life advice!
Shelley says the idea behind the bus is to provide a place for women to get pampered and talk in a fun setting about issues such as equal pay, flexibility, and workplace respect. The UM stop was the pink bus' first visit to a college campus. It is on a National Tour and usually goes to conferences as a hangout to connect and inspire women in various career stages. More than 3,000 women have visited the bus.
I spoke to Shelley and she described the bus with lots of enthusiasm: One side of it is covered with writing from women who have expressed what they think good life at work should look like. The other side is covered with confidence selfies. Shelley's Lounge also is sponsoring the Equal Payback Project, a new national awareness campaign aimed at eliminating the wage gap between men and women—which just came out with a great (and a bit risqué!) video featuring comedian Sarah Silverman (watch here!)
As UM students wandered inside the bus yesterday and listened to soundbites from women's real life experiences in the corporate world. "We want these young women to go into the working world with confidence," Shelley explained to me. "We want to inspire them to activate the changes we want to see."
I love the idea of building confidence in young women and keeping that confidence high throuhout the career cycle. For many of us, that confidence wanes the first time we negotiate salary. Today, I wrote a column in The Miami Herald about salary negotiation. While writing it, I learned how intimidated women are to negotiate for more money.
Money is a key area where girls and women lack confidence and that has to change.
I was shocked when I read this:
Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts USA stated that while Girl Scouts earn $ 800 million a year selling cookies, only 12% feel confident about making simple money decisions.
Financial blogger Beth Kobliner notes that in a recent survey from T. Rowe Price, of the nearly 2,000 parents and kids surveyed, 58% of boys say that their parents discuss financial goals with them, whereas for girls that figure is just 50%.
This will make you cringe: Parents admit that they believe their boys are simply smarter than their girls when it comes to finance. A full 80% of parents who have a son think he understands the value of a dollar, compared with only 69% of parents who have a daughter.
Kobliner offers five critical lessons to impart to your daughters.
I think we all need to look carefully at the messages we're sending young girls and inspire them to be confident at work, with money management, and in relationships. While my generation of working women debate having it all, the next generation will be out there trying — and hopefully succeeding!