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S.H.E. Matters & Negotiations: Can We Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is?

The wage gap and the broken rung are but two phenomena among many that illustrate women’s inequality in the workplace. And seeing as both have to do with a woman’s position and subsequent compensation, there’s another topic all its own that deserves attention:

The matter of salary negotiations.

Namely, how have they contributed to workplace inequality, and what can women do to feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to walk into the room?

The Salary Negotiation Gap

Contrary to some internet discourse, let’s address the fact that women absolutely do negotiate for higher pay. The problem, however, is that different expectations and behaviors that are considered “appropriate” in the workplace lead men to negotiate more often than their female colleagues.

For example, “in 2018, 68 percent of men and 45 percent of women negotiated their salaries,” as reported by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “[and] in 2017, 46 percent of men and 34 percent of women did so.”

That being said, requesting a raise is one thing, but being offered one is another. That is, not all women feel comfortable negotiating an offer once it’s on the table.

In fact, “only 16 percent of respondents always negotiate compensation when a job offer is made or during performance evaluations,” Christina Lopez of career website Monster wrote. “Some respondents believe their companies would acknowledge and reward their accomplishments and efforts, and use that as an excuse to avoid negotiating altogether.”

Thus, empowering women in these scenarios is increasingly important.

Why It’s Harder for Women

Oftentimes, even when a woman is ready and willing to aim for a raise, her incentive in and of itself may be a detriment to her financial goal.

“The bad news is that women pay a penalty when they negotiate,” Lean In explains. “They’re more likely to receive feedback that they are ‘intimidating,’ ‘too aggressive,’ or ‘bossy.’”

Similarly, Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Julian Zlatev conducted a study involving over 2,5000 women who had experience attempting to negotiate their compensation. Their efforts were dubbed a “catch-22” for women.

Why? Because Zlatev and her colleagues in the study “found evidence that women who felt empowered at the negotiation table were more likely to reach worse deals or no deal at all. The results held regardless of their negotiation partners’ gender.”

As a result, many women feel discouraged from attempting to initiate the negotiation process in the first place, thereby contributing to the existing wage gap.

How to Negotiate

While there’s, unfortunately, no magic button for putting an end to subconscious biases — or outright prejudices — at the negotiation table, there are steps women can take to at least feel more confident and prepared.

For example, “it’s helpful to look at salary-data resources on sites like LinkedIn, PayScaleand Glassdoor,” Forbes recommends. “This will give you a clearer idea of how much you can negotiate for. Then, take this information and come up with a rate that is fair and appropriate.”

What’s more, we recommend that women make it more difficult to dispute their right to a higher wage by focusing on their value to the company. Namely, if at all possible, try using numbers:

  • How did you contribute to company metrics?
  • Did you increase team productivity?
  • Did you enhance your department’s revenue stream or savings threshold?
  • And more

Finally, it all comes down to practice.

Once you have all of the key points prepared for your negotiation, take the time to make a script and practice it before you walk through the door. This way, even if nerves and/or an adrenaline rush obstruct your line of thinking, you have the strength of repetition on your side.

And no matter how it turns out, don’t forget your worth.

If you have further thoughts, questions, or suggestions on salary negotiations, we’d love to hear from you!

Please reach out to us or visit our S.H.E. Matters page to send in a submission for our review, and stay tuned here for more information!

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