Written by: Estee Jimerson | Evestnet
By now, you’ve likely heard that women make 76 cents for every dollar a man does. There are endless explanations as to why this could be – from motherhood to subconscious gender biases. In reality, there are likely many factors at play. One thing we know for sure, however, is that 68 percent of women accept the salary they’re offered without negotiating, as opposed to 52 percent of men, and that’s a problem.
The gender pay gap is something that’s often on my mind. Having been in the financial services industry for more than 20 years, I know that it can be intimidating to argue and prove your worth in a male-dominated industry. So here’s what I’ve learned while negotiating salary throughout my career.
1. Think personally, act communally
Women are not worse at negotiating than men, but we are judged more harshly for it. Studies show the social cost of negotiating is greater for women. This means that evaluators actually penalize women more than their male counterparts for negotiating. As a response to this bias, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, encourages women to “think personally, act communally.” Explain why you’re negotiating to your hiring manager – for example, Sandberg underscored the importance of hiring a COO with strong negotiation skills during the salary discussion. Sandberg also reinforced that she and the negotiator were on the same team by saying things like, “This is the only time you and I will ever be on opposite sides of the table.” Incorporating communal elements in your negotiation can increase your success, although it may not solve the prevalent and harmful biases that exist.
2. Forget your past salary
When applying for a new position, focus on being compensated based on your experience and qualifications instead of what you’re currently making. Online job sites like Glassdoor make it easy to find average salary information for a particular industry based on location, experience and title. Come prepared to negotiate with this data, but also factor in any extra training or certifications you have, in addition to your leadership track record, while negotiating. Remember, you can respectfully decline to discuss your past salary and instead keep the focus on what you’re asking for. Researchers at Columbia Business School recommend asking for a specific number, such as $61,450 versus $60,000, as it’s been found that employees who use more precise numbers in their initial negotiation request are more likely to receive a final offer closer to what they are looking for.
3. Silence is empowering
Negotiating can be stressful, regardless of your gender, and can lead to rather uncomfortable moments. Doing some initial prep work and salary research will help you feel resolute in what you are asking for because you will know exactly what you are worth. Whether it’s over the phone or sitting across from a hiring manager, take time to think through what’s being offered – including benefits, bonuses and paid time off – before accepting something you may be unhappy with later. I also encourage you to ask for time to review any offers with a clear mind to make absolutely sure you’re making the best decision, without the added pressure of feeling like you need to provide an answer immediately.
Although there isn’t one easy fix for solving the gender pay gap, it is imperative that we continue to have an ongoing conversation about gender biases and the importance of diversity in the workplace. It goes without saying that women deserve every cent that men do in the workplace, and our salary negotiations should reflect that.
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