Networking / Work Transition

Negotiating Salary

Bridge Over the River Pay-Gap

Bridge Over the River Pay-gap:

Bridge Over the River Pay-gap:

How women can negotiate better salaries: Part 1

Would it surprise you that the number one reason why women do not get paid as much as men for the same is………….women do not ask for as much as men?   Do you consider that good news or bad news?  From my perspective it is good news, because it puts the power to change the situation in your hands.  In a previous article I discussed, when it comes to top paid CEOs, it might be a good thing that women do not buy in to the excesses of the “male” cultural value of he who makes the most money wins. If you are making more than $500k a year you do not need this article.  But if you wish you could be making more money than you currently are, this article can empower you to negotiate a better salary.

How to view it:  First, one of the most uncomfortable things for women to do is to stand up in front of a group of people and state the 5 reasons why they are great or the best at their job.  But, this is exactly what you need to do when it comes to a job interview (or asking for a raise).  In order to feel relatively comfortable asking for more money, you need to know in your bones how good you are; how competent you are.  You need to be able to say it out loud.

Second, the process of acquiring a job and setting a compensation package is a negotiation.  It is deeply influenced by the perceptions of each party.  It is important to understand the nature of those perceptions.  They include the relative value each person brings to the party.  The employer brings a job, potential learning experiences, challenges, and of course a compensation package.  The potential job applicant brings a set of personal and technical skills that hopefully provide solutions to the employers business needs.  Each person consciously or unconsciously is trying to see who provides more value.  All other things being equal, the more the employer believes that you bring relatively more value to the job then the job brings to you the more they will be willing to compensate you.    So your number one sales or marketing target is not the employer.  It is you.  You have to get very clear on your value proposition in terms of solving the potential employer’s business needs.   It is not how valuable you really are that controls the situation, it is the perception of how valuable you really are.

Third, another way of looking at the previous paragraph is that the negotiation is about power.  “Power” - How do you feel about that word and all that it implies?  To the extent that you have any aversive reaction, you may have some work to do.  Power, personal power needs to be owned, and only you can do it for you.  For a lot of reasons, as a group men are more comfortable with power hierarchies.  You can see this in young children.   Boys are more comfortable saying how great they are (even when they are not!).  Social psychology experiments have shown that when confronted with failing a task, men tend to blame others and women tend to blame themselves.  When confronted with success, men tend to give themselves credit and women tend to give the credit to external sources.  As in all of my articles, I have tried to point out that these are just tendencies that by themselves are neither good nor bad.   But in certain contexts each tendency can create different kinds of outcomes.   Whether or not you consider this biological or sociological or both, this gender based differential approach to power is a large source of the pay disparities between men and women.  

Fourth, women have a tendency to embrace the following logic:  “I will get my foot in the door and take the pay at the lower end of the pay range, prove myself and then I will ask for a raise.”   WRONG strategy if you want to get paid more.  All future standard percentage pay increases and bonuses will be based on the starting salary. So over time, you will lose ground to someone who started a salary higher than you.   More importantly you have established your pay grade (or worth) in the eyes of others.  Yes, you can change it, but it is much harder to change a 1 or 2 year-old perception of you than it is to establish an initial perception of your worth.

How to Do it:
I am going to go much more deeply into “how to do it” in Part 2.  But for now here is an exercise that will be step 1.  Focus on a position for which you would like to apply (or your current position if you are looking for a raise).  Write out in simple declarative statements how you would bring great value to an employer for that position.  You can include very specific technical knowledge or content area knowledge.  I would also recommend you think about your general work and relationship talents as well. If you have talent as a strategic thinker that talent can be applied in any area.   Are you good at understanding the needs of others?  That is an important skill in many areas.  Write out as many of statements as you can.  Be mindful of any objections, resistances, “buts”, hesitancies.   If you want to explore them write them down on a completely different piece of paper or document. 

Written for by Dr. Robert Schwarz.

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About the Author

Robert  Schwarz

Robert  Schwarz, 

(AKA Dr. Bob) is the National Director of Mars Venus Workplace Seminars and Consulting. He maintains a consulting & coaching practice in Haverford, Pa. He presents trainings internationally on topics, including communication, gender differences, leadership, creativity and advanced approaches to stress management and work life balance. His clients include government agencies and businesses, such as GE women’s Network, KPMG Women’s Network, Wachovia Bank, Daichii-Sankyo, Avenits and NASA.

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