The major issue that generally women avoid to negotiate is salary. Salary negotiation is a challenge for women because it is often seen as an uncomfortable conversation.
According to a study conducted by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of “Women Don’t Ask”, men are four times more likely to negotiate their job offer than the woman. When women do negotiate, they often have lower expectations about how much they will receive, and on average, end up receiving about 30% less than men who negotiate, the study reveals.
This has even more impact if you consider that, according to this same study, individuals who fail to negotiate their first salary stand to lose more than $500,000 in earnings, by age 60.
I remember when I worked on Corporate jobs, I never negotiate a raise. Somehow I realize today that I was afraid of doing so. At the time, I remember to feel that I was afraid to be seen as “pushy” or “demanding” or even “convinced” that my professional value was higher than actually what was perceived by others.
It’s true that generally, even today, the majority of women face unique challenges when it comes to their salary negotiation. Women tend to underestimate their professional value, and most times avoid to be assertive. These blockages make salary negotiation more difficult, but no less important, which is why we have got to be extra prepared.
According to the study: All employees are equal, but some are more equal than others: dominance, agreeableness, and status inconsistency among men and women, published, in 2016, in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, agreeable women are compensated less.
But when women trade their agreeableness for assertiveness, they can be viewed as unlikeable and demanding. This double bind means it is often hard for women to be assertive, but they also need to be assertive to negotiate.
So what can you do?
- Stop apologizing. “I’m so sorry to bother you.” “I know budgets are tight, but … ” “I feel bad asking this.” This kind of language steals the focus from your accomplishments and makes your negotiation personal. If you’re in a position to negotiate, remember, you’re not asking for a personal favor. There’s no need to make excuses for your request.
- Practice being assertive. Alice Stuhlmacher, a researcher who leads the psychology department at DePaul University, has suggested that women practice being assertive when the stakes are low. For me, that played out when a restaurant host seated my husband and me at an uncomfortable table.
- Do it for the cause. Research has found that women have an easier time negotiating when they’re advocating for other people. So if it helps you to approach asking for a raise by thinking about it as something that will help other women, do it. As Tanja Hester, the author of “Work Optional”, put it, “What encouraged me to negotiate at my old job was knowing that I was making it more normal for other women to ask.”
- Ask for feedback. This is a strategy that can be used to negotiate higher freelance rates and improve your job skills at the same time. It involves planning and, a few months before you plan to negotiate a rate increase, asking your boss or employer for feedback. What are you doing right in your role? How would they like to see you improve? The goal is to show your employer that you want to do your job better and then execute on it. Commit to improving, then check back a few months later having made those improvements.
In the scenario of women deciding to negotiate for themselves, there are two major challenges to be faced:
The first is the relational component of the negotiation. There is the stereotype of women result in the expectation that women are warm, nurturing and concerned for others. As a result, women, more so than men, can receive what we call a social penalty when they negotiate. In the context of negotiating for themselves, say advocating for why they deserve a higher salary, women are evaluated more harshly than men. In a negotiation when the same words that a man would use come from a woman, numbers show that she’s more likely to be seen as being rudely assertive.
The second dynamic to manage is that women need to bring strategic information to their negotiations. One negotiation move that would behoove women is to show that their claim is a valid and reasonable request. This is particularly a challenge for women, because women and men may be accessing different information through their social and professional networks. Some studies have documented how women and men are in different social networks. If men are generally paid more than women, are generally in more senior roles that get paid more, and are in industries, like finance, that are higher paying than female-dominated industries, like education, they are likely to be sharing information with one another, that women may not be accessing when they speak with their peers.
Like everything in life, salary negotiation is a skill that you can learn.
The most important thing is for you to be aware of your value.
You can do some research and learn exactly what you should expect to be paid for your years of experience, education and any special training you have. Have a look at the websites Payscale.com and Salary.com that offer free salary information to help you get an estimate on what you should be earning.
Here are some of our tips for your awareness when you are trying to get a better salary:
1. Know how much you want to earn
2. Know that it’s acceptable to ask by doing market research
3. Be aware of gender differences
4. Give a number, not a range
5. Time it appropriately
6. Get the hiring manager on your side
7. Be informed and prepared to make a pitch
8. Be humble and polite, yet confident
Be aware to consider all…salary by itself it’s not the only way that you could be compensated by your work. You could ensure yourself to be better rewarded by negotiating the benefits, perks, retirement plan, stock options, and other extras.
If everything “sounds good”, maybe you can consider being less demanding regarding the salary.
Always remember yourself that this job sets the tone for your future earnings, so carefully consider whether to make a counteroffer before you accept.
During your career you will have to deal with scenarios that are, in many ways, considered as a “difficult conversation”, that will require advanced salary negotiation skills.
If you want to refine your negotiation skills, please read our article on “How to negotiate your best salary”, where you are going to have an overview of the best techniques to help you manage the most difficult salary negotiations.
Have a great week,
and don’t forget to “rock” in your salary negotiations.