Someone who has negotiated their salary throughout their career will have accumulated between half a million and a million dollars more than someone who has never negotiated, insist Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, authors of Women Don’t Ask.
If talking about money stresses you out, we’ve put together some tips to prepare you to conquer this sometimes anxiety-provoking situation.
Salary Negotiation: Women Struggle to Claim Their Due
According to a Glassdoor study, 68% of women accept the salary initially offered to them without negotiating. Yet most of them excel when it is time to negotiate on behalf of others – their colleagues or employees, for example.
Natalie Portman has said she didn’t negotiate her salary when filming Friends with Benefits, claiming that she “couldn’t complain”. Yet Ashton Kutcher, who also starred in the film, was paid three times more than Portman. Jennifer Lawrence has previously explained that she found it hard to negotiate her salary early in her career. She was afraid of seeming “difficult” or “too spoiled”. Sound familiar?
In Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, relates the story of her negotiation with Mark Zuckerberg when she was hired. As she prepared to accept the first offer, for fear of ruining the opportunity she was being given, her brother-in-law explained to her that no man at her level would accept a first offer. After giving it some thought, Sheryl went back to see Mark Zuckerberg to tell him that she couldn’t accept without negotiating. The Facebook CEO called her the next day with a better offer.
6 Tips for Negotiating Your Salary
1. Know your worth
“Don’t be afraid to negotiate. To negotiate is to create the conditions for your success!” reiterates Sophie Brochu, President and CEO of Hydro-Québec and leader at The A Effect, to participants of the Défi 100 jours/Ambition Challenge. But to do this, it’s important to shake off self-doubt and imposter syndrome. By being fully aware of your worth and of what you bring to the company, you’ll change your mindset and feel more comfortable discussing salary with your employer. Not because you deserve it, but because you’re worth it.
2. Be a go-to person
“It’s vital to be up to date on industry goings-on”, maintains Brigitte Simard, Managing Partner of the firm Intel2Talent. In other words, do your homework. Whether you’re job hunting or not, it’s your responsibility to be well-informed about what’s happening in your industry. By making yourself the go-to, you inevitably increase your worth.
3. Be well-prepared
Abraham Lincoln is often quoted as having said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax.” In terms of negotiation, to be well-prepared, you’ve got to get to the bottom of things. Take the time to dig around and search for information. What are the company’s plans? What markets does the team wish to develop? When you’re well-prepared, you can better position yourself and negotiate more effectively, explains Kim Thomassin, Executive Vice President and Head of Investments in Quebec and Stewardship Investing at the CDPQ.
4. Communicate, but above all, listen
This is the key! Listening is the foundation of communication. Being an active listener will allow you to learn more about the person you’re talking to and their needs, and thus respond specifically while also being more strategic.
5. Be aware of your body language
Checking your watch or playing agitatedly with your pen can betray stress or impatience. Use confident posture. This isn’t trivial. Your body really can send messages to your brain and influence your mindset. The bonus: good posture sends people a positive message and influences the way they see you.
6. Mind the subconscious
Have you heard about unconscious bias? A hot topic in human resources, it is one of the last obstacles to gender equity in business. It’s insidious and clouds judgement, leading people to discriminate unintentionally, especially against professional women. No one is immune! Managers, HR specialists, men AND women – ah yes! Women can also be biased against women.
What can be done to counteract bias? Two things:
Historically, and until quite recently, it was rather rare to see a woman asking for a raise. Even if things are changing, our deeply rooted habits can activate certain prejudices (unconscious biases). This certainly reinforces how important it is to be well-prepared – probably more so than for a man – so you can show, using concrete examples, how you have contributed to the company’s success. If you have specific goals and ambitions, you should also be prepared to state them clearly.
Likewise, to make leaders and employees aware of this reality and, ultimately, help women reclaim their due, bias needs to be talked about! Because beyond the good habits to be acquired and the skills you truly need to develop, you’ll be hard pressed getting what you want if your organization isn’t conscious of… unconscious bias.