September 7

Top Ten Tips for Women to Negotiate your Salary

Why is negotiating your salary so important?

You could be leaving significant money on the table if you are no negotiating your salary and even more if you are a victim of the gender pay gap, one form of gender inequality.

Recent research in the US has shown that over a lifetime a women with a bachelors degrees in business could earn up to $1.1 million less than men with a bachelor’s degree in business.

On our quest for gender equality, and to resolve the gender pay gap learning how to negotiating your salary is key.

Why women find it a challenge to negotiate salary 

Women face unique challenges and often struggle when it comes to negotiating their salaries. Women are more reticent than men to negotiate their salary. Up to half of men negotiate their salary, whilst only 1/8 of women do so and here are some of the reasons why; 

  • Women underestimate their value & worth.
  • Women are socialised to avoid assertiveness
  • there is a social cost for women to negotiate 

What are the costs to negotiating? 

While the social cost of negotiating for pay is not significant for men, it is significant for women. Women can feel fear about negotiating for themselves because their intuition is correctly telling them that self advocating could create a socially difficult situation for them. 

Women are treated different when we negotiate our salaries. This creates fear or reticence to negotiate. How many times have you heard women in you office referred to as ‘too assertive’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘too much’? These terms are used because we want women to be ‘likeable’ and being seen as assertive goes against the ‘likeability’ factor! 

But the irony is that we love it when women negotiate assertively for others.

While this can be uncomfortable remember the risk is you are leaving significant money on the table. 

We need to create an environment in which women feel empowered to ask for what they deserve and are worth.

Now that you understand the impact of not negotiating your salary and why you might not be keen it’s time to get understanding on how you can do it!

10 Tips to help you negotiate the salary you deserve.

  1. Know going in that negotiating your salary will not be easy. Nor will it be a one and done conversation. You need to be committed to a process; potentially a number of conversations with a number of different key stakeholders. Remind yourself regularly of what the potential outcome is. The potential return on investment is well worth your time & energy. 
  1. Know that it is acceptable to ask for a raise; it might be an uncomfortable conversation for many, but that doesn’t mean it’s not okay. You never will know what room there is for negotiation if you never ask. The worst case scenario is someone says no.
  1. Negotiate up front; it is much easier to get money before you start a job than when you are in the company. Companies are often held to much tighter budgets when it comes to salary raises than they are to starting salary discussions. 
  1. Be creative; if the base salary is not negotiable are there other areas such as bonus, benefits, written confirmation of future earnings potentials available? 
  1. Be informed; do your research. Benchmark your salary and benefits in the market. Speak to your network, recruitment consultants and any others who might have insight to what the going rate for your role is.  
  1. Make a pitch; know your worth and be comfortable articulating it. Why should this company hire you or pay you more? Why are you worth it? What you will bring to them? What are you capable of, what are your strengths and what values do you bring to the team? The more you can quantify the better. If you cannot quantify your worth it is very hard for anyone to do so for you. 
  1. Use silence & listen; When you have said your piece stay silent. Have you ever been one of those people that once you put it out there you start trying to justify the ask? Well…I just thought I would check, I understand if it’s not feasible etc. Say nothing and wait for a response before you react. 
  1. Get the timing right; approach at the right time. Know when pay review discussions start internally, approach months in advance and start planting the seed. As per tip 1 this is rarely a one and done discussion.
  1. Body language; is just as important as the words you use. Closed posture, lack of eye contact, tone of voice and fidgeting are all behaviours that makes you look nervous. You want to portray confidence, whether this is what you are feeling or not is irrelevant. 
  1. Practise makes perfect; it might be a cliche but it’s true. Make a plan and practise your pitch until you’re comfortable with it. No idea of how you might be perceived? Record a session with a friend and watch it back no matter how uncomfortable. Identify what changes you want to make, and keep practising. 

Finally, if you have had a number of conversations and see no progress it is time to make some tough decisions. Remember, you have choice. At times we forget that you can walk away, either from an offer for a new job, or from an existing job.

To understand the current gender pay gap please read my previous blog

Gender Inequality; what you need to know about the Gender Pay Gap


career, equal pay, feminism, feminist, gender equality, gender inequality, pay, pay parity, salary, salary negotiation, women's equality day

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