Negotiating for What You’re Worth

It’s often assumed that women don’t ask for raises, that they act less assertively in negotiations for fear of upsetting the relationship with their boss or colleagues. Books like Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever’s Women Don’t Ask and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In have tried to back this claim.

But new research from Harvard Business Review refutes this belief.

Women Are Asking for Raises — They Just Aren’t Getting them

Harvard Business Review found that women do ask for raises as often as men do — they just don’t get them:

“Women ask for a raise just as often as men, but men are more likely to be successful. Women who asked obtained a raise 15% of the time, while men obtained a pay increase 20% of the time. While that may sound like a modest difference, over a lifetime it really adds up.”

This is frustrating to hear. We already know that women earn less than men do (when comparing equally qualified people doing the same job, most estimates by labor economists put the gender pay-gap at 10% – 20%). Now, we hear that when we try to negotiate for a raise, we don’t get it. Our “shortcoming”? Being female.

“The bottom line is that the patterns we have found are consistent with the idea that women’s requests for advancement are treated differently from men’s requests. Asking does not mean getting — at least if you are a female,” Harvard Business Review writes.

Tips on How to Negotiate for that Raise

After hearing this research, you’re probably feeling discouraged. “What’s the point of asking for a raise if research shows I won’t get it?”

Yes, this news is gloomy, but knowledge is power, and now that we know what we’re up against, we can better prepare for asking for that raise. So, now we’d like to provide some research-backed strategies you can use to negotiate for that salary increase, also echoed in Ellevest’s recent article, “The Trick to Negotiating That Raise? Science.” Here are tips they recommend:

1. Get data (internal and external data)

Learn about the internal pay structure of your company. Ask your manager how pay ranges are determined or find out where your position falls relative to others in the company.

For external data, ask your friends and people in your network to find out what other companies tend to pay for the role. Ellevest recommends using resources like Salary.com and PayScale, while other reputable compensation reports can also be helpful. We also love the site, Ladies Get Paid.

2. Group your priorities

Negotiate bonus, benefits, equity, flexibility and, of course, salary as one group. That way, you’re not compromising on every individual ask, and it also won’t seem like you’re asking for too much.

3. Make it a win-win situation

What value — risk avoidance, brand value — do you bring to the company? Bring up these points.

4. Remember why you’re there

You’re there to get paid what you deserve. And research shows we negotiate more effectively when it’s for something bigger than ourselves. When negotiating, think about how a raise would help you, your family and loved ones, and causes you care about.

If you want a chance to talk to other like-minded women about these issues and other challenges that arise around money, please join us at one of our Conversation Circles.

Diane Bourdo, CFP®
Diane Bourdo, CFP®

Diane Bourdo is the President of The Humphreys Group. Diane has dedicated her life’s work to helping women make smart financial decisions. For nearly 30 years, she has developed investment management and financial planning strategies that allow her clients to create lives that reflect their values. Diane was named an InvestmentNews 2020 Women to Watch and has been recognized in Forbes, SF Chronicle, NY Times and more for her work and writing.

Diane Bourdo, CFP®
Diane Bourdo, CFP®

Diane Bourdo is the President of The Humphreys Group. Diane has dedicated her life’s work to helping women make smart financial decisions. For nearly 30 years, she has developed investment management and financial planning strategies that allow her clients to create lives that reflect their values. Diane was named an InvestmentNews 2020 Women to Watch and has been recognized in Forbes, SF Chronicle, NY Times and more for her work and writing.

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