How Women Should Negotiate Salary

Abbie Martin

Although many glass ceilings are being shattered across industries, there is still a major gap in the number of female C-Suite executives versus their male counterpoints. The number has declined in recent years, and data shows that although women may move to a different position, a different company, or retire, the consistently low number of female top leaders is because there are so few women in the pipeline to begin with.

Although part of it may be life and cultural circumstances (i.e. more women decide to stay home and raise a family than men), another part of the equation is that women may not ask for a raise or negotiate their salary when they are taking on a new position. This puts them at a disadvantage in moving their career forward.

Now is a great time for women to learn how to negotiate their salary. Laws are changing across the U.S. regarding pay history. These laws protect employees who are earning less than their counterparts (most notably, women) from being put at a disadvantage during salary negotiations. As women transition into new roles, they have more tools at their disposable than ever before.

So, before you begin your negotiation, research what the laws are in your state and the salary average for your position and your industry. You are asking for what is expected for your job—not the value you bring to the position, which is another key difference between men and women. Women believe salary is value-based, whereas men view it as an expectation: X job equals Y salary.

It’s also important to realize that this is a logical decision, versus an emotional one. Many women don’t open up the conversation because they worry about perception: Will I upset the person if I ask for more money? Whereas men ask, often thinking: What’s the worst that could happen? This is a normal part of business, and managers are used to having these conversations.

Finally, after you negotiate your salary, be sure to “hold your breath.” Don’t try to fill the silence waiting for a manager to make their decision. If you speak before allowing the hiring manager to respond, you may undercut yourself by backtracking on your original negotiation. For instance, a candidate may say, “If a 10% bump isn’t possible, I could do 5%,” when the manager was probably fine with 10% but needed to work out the logistics. Don’t fill the silence – stand firm in your ask.

There are more opportunities than ever for women in the workplace, but it’s key to know your role in grasping those opportunities. Good managers want the best people for their team, and they will do what it takes to be sure the right people are working for them.

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