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Negotiating In The Workplace: 5 Tips That Work For Women

Negotiating salary is more of a taboo amongst women as they fear being branded as 'selfish'.

Posted by Rakhi

Sheryl Sandberg almost accepted the first offer made to her at Facebook, when her husband and brother-in-law pointed out it wasn’t a competitive one. So, Sandberg renegotiated with Zuckerberg and was able to get a better package that included Facebook shares. In the book Women Don’t Ask, co-author and Carnegie Mellon University Professor Linda Babcock says, “Men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise – and when women do ask, they typically request 30% less than men do.”

It is a fact that women struggle to negotiate a better salary. Variety of factors, including gender bias and cultural norms, feed into the issue. Women often end up compromising on the level of pay or the position, as they struggle to strike a balance between familial obligations, motherhood responsibilities and professional commitments. Research reveals women are also intrinsically more likely to accept an offer, without questioning or researching it, to avoid conflict. Negotiating salary is more of a taboo amongst women as they fear being branded as ‘selfish’.

There is no doubt that organizations and business leaders hold the responsibility of pushing for better policies and interventions in order to make workplaces more gender inclusive. In fact, organizations like Randstad have made heart-warming efforts towards empowering women in the workplace. However, even as organizations implement policies to establish gender pay parity, it is crucial that women realize their potential and negotiate for what’s their due. Here are five tips that working women can use to negotiate more freely.

1. Do your homework: Know what your job is worth

Before you initiate a salary negotiation, it is important to research the industry averages for the position you are applying to as well as other similar roles. Evaluate your job responsibilities and consult sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed and Payscale to understand what the role is worth. Some critical factors that define the salary you can command, apart from your role, are your total work experience, the range of exposure you have across different projects, managerial responsibilities you have undertaken, the number of people you are currently managing, additional qualifications and certifications pertaining to your field of work, etc. Build up your case and also ensure you have an explanation for any deviations from the range.

2. Ask, listen and co-operate: Maintain clear and open communication

If you don’t ask, you will never know. Women are 25% more likely than men to agree that they did not ask for a specific amount during their salary discussion. Be clear, confident and specific in stating your expectation during the negotiation, and back it up with information from your research, if required. It is equally important to engage positively with affirmative body language and approach the discussion with an open mind. Listen to what the company representatives have to say – this gives you the option to negotiate a resolution that works for both parties. Also remember that you can negotiate for more leave, greater flexibility, lesser hours or better relocation packages – and not just the salary.

3. Pitch your services: Show what the organization stands to gain

On an average, people who negotiate based on facts and numbers tend to receive a better package. Know the standards that measure your success against your set KRAs, and based on that, quantify what you bring to the table. Base your salary demand on objective information that is relevant to your organization’s needs such as your experience in managing a particular type of project. Research shows women might experience better salary outcomes if they explain how their negotiating skill could benefit the company. Frame your negotiation discussions to show you are representing the company’s interests as well as your own. If you are unable to negotiate for what is due to you now, how can you advocate the company and its best interests in the long run, and negotiate with partners and clients?

4. Garner your manager’s support: Backing helps

While your managers are not solely responsible for determining your salary, they often play a significant role in the matter. It is important that women at work have a strong professional rapport with their managers where they can not only discuss salary without hesitation, but also seek feedback on their work, inputs and suggestions on workplace practices and general career advice. A recent Gallup study shows that 61% of employees who agree that their managers recognize their strengths tend to be more engaged than others.

5. Practice makes perfect: Familiarize yourself with the discussion

Women often perceive themselves as having poor negotiation skills and lack the confidence. But negotiation is a learned art and can be improved with practice. Prep yourself with the above information and practice with some good friends, colleagues or even by yourself – in front of the mirror. Watch your tone, body language and negotiate out loud, playing out possible narratives from both sides. Watch some YouTube videos or podcasts on salary negotiation skills to boost your confidence and sharpen your communication techniques.

Women get raises only 15% of the time they ask while men get it 20% of the time – this seemingly small discrepancy adds up to a significant difference in earnings over a lifetime. While organizations work to resolve the gender pay gap issue, the time is ripe for women to tackle self-limiting biases developed over generations of social conditioning and realize their true worth.

Also read: Women’s Wages And The Dilemma Of Negotiation

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