Gender Pay Gap Tip for Women: Learn to Negotiate

What if there was a way to close the gap?

It’s topical, I realise. However the gender pay gap discussion is a global topic with people far and wide weighing into the debate of how it came about and what to do about it.

Now, this article is not intending to solve this global problem but aims to provide 1 single thing that women can do, in order to close this gap. Well, two things actually.

  1. Don’t stand for it
  2. Learn to negotiate

I hear you all saying, “it’s a lot easier said than done Julia!” And I tend to agree. If my two strategies above were easy-peasy, then this problem wouldn’t exist.

But it does and yet here we are.

I will point out that this article isn’t intending to approach the topic by stating how much less one receives than their male equivalent. It does however aim to arm you with some strategies to focus on yourself and to increase your remuneration through learning to negotiate.

In general, women tend not to negotiate

It kills me a little each time I hear a woman tell me that they couldn’t possibly ask for a pay rise, or they’ve never asked for a pay rise, or they’ve never counter-offered on a new employment contract.

If I had a dollar for every person (male or female) who avoided a pay-rise conversation or conducted it poorly, then I may have solved the gender pay-gap problem purely through donating my dollars earned to those affected.

My work as a business consultant and professional negotiator has exposed me to countless women who are terrified of asking their boss for more money.

Here’s how this usually goes:

Me: Why don’t you talk to your boss about it and ask for a pay rise?

Women: I could never do that. How do I do that? What do I say? What if they say no?

Your boss is unlikely to walk up to your desk and simply hand you a pay-rise.

Now, I’m not saying the below tips are super simple. They will certainly take you out of your comfort zone, however if you’re not prepared to go into battle for yourself, who will? And if you’re not prepared to do it, then you need to settle for the existing situation.

Here are 5 Tips to help you negotiate your remuneration.

1.  Actually negotiate. Or at least try.

Any attempt is better than no attempt. I realise it takes courage to do this, but surely you’re worth it, right?

2.  Ask your boss for an opportunity to discuss your remuneration

Courageous and right way: face to face conversation

Wrong way: sending them an email (sorry, email is just not going to cut it!)

Again, yes, this will be challenging. But some things that are challenging are also necessary. And some things that are challenging and necessary are also incredibly rewarding.

Swing by your boss’s desk and ask: “Hi Mark/Lucy”. I’m wondering if we could make a time together to discuss my remuneration please. I’d like to get my thoughts together before we meet, so how about next week sometime?

I can hear some of you dying on the inside as you read that.

What’s the worst that can happen by asking this? Will anyone actually die? Imagine if it worked!

3.  Ask questions

When you meet, try asking some questions to explore the possibility of a pay rise. Try:

  • May I ask what it might look like for me to receive an XX% pay increase?
  • If I was to increase revenue/reduce downtime/exceed KPIs by X%/etc, would you be open to discussing a pay increase?
  • I’m interested to discuss my remuneration and in particular about bringing it into line with market rates/others within the company. How do you feel about that?

4.  Make it easy for them to say yes

Don’t ask for a pay rise if you’re behind on your KPI targets – you’ll just make it easy for them to say no.

You want to put yourself in a position for it to be a no-brainer to increase your remuneration. If you exceed your deliverables, behave in line with the company values and aren’t a jerk, then you’ve got good cause to hit them up.

If you’re currently more behind than ahead of your KPIs, set yourself a goal to exceed them for the next quarter and then ask.

5.  Look for alternatives

If an increase in actual salary isn’t viable, present some other alternatives.

A day off, increased flexibility (which in all honesty, should not really need to be used as leverage in this day and age), increased annual leave, reduced hours or an investment in training could all be options up for debate.

The Gender pay-gap still has a long way to go until global equality occurs, however learning to negotiate is one way to start looking out for yourself. It has to start somewhere.

Side point: teaching people the basic (and advanced) elements of negotiating is some of my most rewarding work.