Woman and salary negotiation – Just do it!
Is getting a pay rise supposed to be like going to the dentist?
As the end of the financial year approaches salary negotiation should not be like a trip to the dentist! Yes, it should occur every year, but it should not be scary, painful and fill you with apprehension. Let it be about reward, recognition,the opportunity for positive dialogue and strengthening key employment relationships in the workplace.
In a recent Conflict Coaching session with a General Manager (let’s call him Alex) he asked if we could discuss how he can coach his female direct reports to negotiate their salary. Alex was conscious that as salary negotiation time was fast approaching his male direct reports were locking in time to see him but his female report weren’t. Alex wanted to know why 2 of his best business negotiators were women but they never raised salary with him.
Top 5 issues…
This is what I shared with him. Use it. Share it with your wife, mother, sister, best friend, and female colleagues.
- Gender Pay Gap
We already know that the gender pay gap is 17.1%. That’s 2.2% higher than 2004- so across the past decade things have gone backwards!
Our Advice: Rather than being overwhelmed with the institutional and societal discrimination that makes up this statistic, take control of at least one salary negotiation – your own. Recognise the opportunity to negotiate every time there is a job offer, salary review or promotion.
- Women don’t ask
In a major academic study it was found that only 7% of women, compared with 57% of men, attempted to negotiate.
Our advice: make a deliberate decision to negotiate. If you don’t ask you are unlikely to get anything! Prepare, discuss it with a friend or a colleague. However, merely asking for more is not negotiation. When asking you should be able to explain why you are asking, what you want, and be able to justify it. Do your homework so you know who to compare yourself to and you know your worth.
- Sugar and Spice
Women are brought up “sugar and spice and everything nice” and therefore asking for things is not an accepted norm. From young girls women are conditioned to be accommodating and compromising. This coupled with their natural preference to preserve relationships tends to result in their own interests being relegated. Women signal a more accommodating “soft” approach and consequently undermine their economic outcomes as this invites their managers and peers to make less generous offers
Our Advice: If this is you (or someone you know) acknowledge this as part of your conditioning and then change it. If it helps framing negotiations as “representational negotiation” (We) rather than “self-negotiating” (I). Also view negotiation as problem-solving exercise rather than a competitive process.
- Reputational damage
Women are concerned about reputational damage if they ask. But let’s use the scenarios Stanford’s Margaret A. Neale’s gives to her MBA students
Scenario: $100,000 salary. One person negotiates and gets $107,000, and the other doesn’t—what’s the cost of that?
Simple Answer: $7,000. Some would argue is this really worth risking my reputation over? Maybe not.
But: That $7000 is compounded. Over 35 years, treated to the same raises and entitlements, you will have to work 8 years longer!!!
The real question: $7,000 may not be worth the risk to reputation, but how about 8 years of your life?
Our Advice: Be deliberate and conscious of HOW you ask. Plan your opening and be transparent that you are negotiating.
- Women view their package as money alone
Our advice: It should NEVER be just about $. How else can you increase your overall package? Things to ask for other than $$$$$$ include training (which also offers networking opportunity), mentoring (identify who would make a good mentor before the discussion), be the company representative on an industry/networking body, flexibility (e.g. come in later on a particular day, work from home). Be a creative problem solver and don’t miss the opportunity to increase your overall outcome.
So what happened?
Alex raised the issue with his female direct reports and encouraged them to prepare for a discussion with him. I’m happy to share that whilst salary increase were minimal due to current financial constraints, all increased their overall packages and in Alex’s words “impressed the socks off me with what they wanted and how they could get it”. It just does not have to be like a trip to the dentist.