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Breaking gender stereotypes: 4 key strategies women need to negotiate higher salary

Negotiating one’s salary is a challenge in itself, but imagine starting discussions at a disadvantage because of something you can’t control? According to latest WEF’s 2021 ‘Global Gender Gap report’, it will take another 135.6 years to close the gender parity gap.

What if tomorrow all women asked for a wage increase? Would it serve as the solution to a much bigger issue?

A new job offers the ideal opportunity to increase job compensation. Unfortunately, men and women face quite different outcomes when they enter salary negotiations, and female negotiators often find themselves in a tough spot. Female negotiators are labelled as pushy and selfish whereas successful men can negotiate without any fear of repercussion.

Navigating these realities, we want to outline four practical tips women can use to improve job and salary negotiations.

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1. Research the market well

When information is uncertain, women tend to have worse results in career negotiations. The more you study the market and are clear about what is and is not possible, the more confidence you will have at the negotiation table. In your research, scan published data as well as asking your network. When you benchmark compensation, do so with both men and women. Women are more likely to compare themselves with female counterparts and, due to the pay gap, set their benchmark too low.

2. Don’t limit yourself to pay

Be clear about what you want. Job negotiation doesn’t have to be just salary negotiation. Once you know what’s important – training and development opportunities, a specific team, or working from home – you can set your negotiation priorities accordingly. You should negotiate for career satisfaction and success, not just for money.

3. Build your business case

Frame your message with company benefits rather than personal needs. Ask yourself: how will this help the company? Take Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, in her book Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, she recalls her salary negotiation with Mark Zuckerberg. Sandberg said: “You want me to be in charge of your deals, you therefore need a strong negotiator. Be reassured, this is the last time that we are on the opposite side of the negotiation table.” Her concern for the organisation improves the social impression of the ask. For more insights in framing your application, read ‘Framing your message for a successful negotiation’ to further expand this idea.

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4. Take a collaborative approach

The notion that women more often than men take a collaborative or cooperative approach to negotiation is frequently cited. This approach often creates agreements that are better for both sides. Try perceiving salary negotiation as a joint problem-solving exercise. Let’s assume you want a total compensation of AUD$125,000, but the company’s only offering AUD$110,000. Your reply could be, “I understand that because of your salary bands you can only offer me a salary of AUD$110,000. In order to be satisfied in this new role, I need a total compensation of $125,000. What benefits are you able to offer me to bridge this gap?” Such an approach would help you negotiate effectively, while remaining cooperative.

By negotiating your salary, you may experience other positive effects too. Here are few benefits listed below:

  1. When negotiating, you strengthen your brand. If your job involves negotiation, by asking for a wage increase, you might be perceived as a ‘better professional’.
  1. You are more likely to increase your compensation, not just once, but over time. The cumulative effect can be substantial.
  2. As you increase your compensation, you are more likely to be promoted. In fact, companies believe employees that are paid more, are better employees – much like we believe that a more expensive wine is a better wine.
  3. As more women get promoted and receive their real-value compensation, it will go some way towards parity.

Next time you’re faced with a decision on whether to negotiate your salary or not, evaluate your mindset and take a positive attitude; because remember, confidence breeds competence.  

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Prof. Giuseppe Conti

Prof. Giuseppe Conti

Prof. Giuseppe Conti is the founder of Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch), a company that specialises in negotiation and influencing training.

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