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The Five Letter Word All Women Should Stop Saying, Now

Do either of these situations below sound familiar?

— You sit down for a meeting with your boss and start with, “I’m sorry to take your time you, but…” 
— One of your colleagues says, “You did a great job on the project,” and you say, “Sorry, I really wish I had done X, Y, or Z differently.”  Sound familiar?

Sorry for being hired. Sorry for being promoted. Sorry for taking your salary. Sorry for being a female who is taking full control of her future. Sorry, friends, but we all really need to stop apologizing, now.

We can’t demand equality and expect it if we’re always apologizing. Sorry is a ritualized form meaning something like, “I hope this is O.K. with you”. It’s just a word that lets peopleespecially women – say what the other person may not want to hear. But, really, there’s no purpose behind it unless we actually sincerely feel sorry.

Still not convinced to drop this word from your vocabulary? Watch Pantene’s “Not Sorry” commercial. It follows women from morning to night saying sorry for actions they shouldn’t be excused and then replays each scenario replacing sorry, with not sorry. If a shampoo brand is urging us to not be sorry, and instead “shine strong”, it can’t be any more obvious that we have a gender issue at hand (but nothing that can’t be fixed).

Think about how often you casually toss this word around during your day. How many times is it actually said with 100% conviction?

I’ll take a stab – rarely.

Apologizing excessively can be the result of a deep-rooted desire to be polite, but it can become problematic when overused– especially in a professional environment. The problem is that over-apologizing can be mistaken as claiming responsibility, regardless of whether or not you deserve blame in the first place.

So what’s a bad-ass career woman to do? First, stop apologizing. Instead of saying the five letter words, start replacing apologies with accurate statements to communicate your point. This may seem tricky at first, but with practice, you’ll master it, and you’re going to love the respect you will get from others.

By no means are we saying to become the cold employee that everybody avoids when they walk into the office — kindness still matters. Definitely stay away from being too egotistical because being liked at work is a key component to beneficial opportunities and promotions. Instead, pause your autopilot, and think if your behavior truly calls for a sorry. Despite the persistent gender gap that affects most women in the global workforce, women have control over their own actions — so, as a collective, let’s toss this ugly five letter word out the window. This one step will get us closer to closing the gender gap and build the foundations of trust, respect, and support.

“There’s nothing more impressive than a woman who knows her power.” – Venus Williams

Another big warning bell for working women, according to Sallie Krawcheck, the co-founder and CEO of Ellevest, is that there’s a vast portion of under leveraged capital that could be the reason more women can’t start their own businesses, create opportunities for their families, or worse, retire securely. “The gender investing gap costs women hundreds of thousands, in some cases, millions of dollars,” Krawcheck says. Part of the problem, according to Krawcheck, is that financial advising is a mostly male dominant. According to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, only 23% of financial planning professionals are women. Krawcheck says that the skewed gender makeup of the industry has perpetuated the myths around women and money, including that women aren’t good at math and need more financial education to invest (could not be more untrue). “Those are red herrings,” Krawcheck argues. “Everyone needs more financial education.”

The gender investment gap has the potential to throw women, and the economy, into crisis. Ellevest aims to close it before that happens.”I never really considered myself much of a feminist until I left Wall Street. I did all the right things –such as put together gender-diverse teams — but feminism wasn’t deep in my bones. It wasn’t until I took some time off and had some space that I realized that the investment industry has been, frankly, “by men, for men” — and that has historically kept women from advancing and achieving their goals,”

We can’t say sorry to men because we also want to invest and assure a secure financial future. Never be sorry for being a woman, who has her own opinions and ambitions. Own it.

Ready to break the ceiling? Sign up to get your free financial plan from Ellevesttoday. Get started here.

Sallie Krawcheck is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, an innovative digital investing and planning platform for women. She is also the Chair of Ellevate Network, the global professional women’s network.

Disclosures: We’re excited to be partnering with Ellevest to start this conversation about women and money. We may receive compensation if you become an Ellevest client.

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