Did you know that only 7% of women negotiate the terms of a job offer? Marni Johnson, SVP of Human Resources and Communications at BlueShore Financial, wants to see that change, so women start stepping into their full potential and start closing the gender wage gap.
By: Marni Johnson
In my career, I have been amazed at how many women do not negotiate – whether that’s negotiating an initial job offer, asking for new responsibilities, or pursuing professional development. By not negotiating, women are missing opportunities to move their careers ahead and often leaving significant money on the table..
Research shows that 57% of men negotiate job offers, but only 7% of women do. In one study, those who negotiated were able to increase their salary by over 7%. Over a career, that difference can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Why don’t women negotiate? Many of us have been taught it’s not “ladylike” to ask for what we want, believing instead that if we do great work, our efforts will be noticed and rewarded accordingly. We may not see an opportunity for negotiation, instead viewing a situation as “take it or leave it”. We may view negotiation as a conflict situation with a winner and a loser, and we are afraid of the impact on our reputation. Or, we may simply not know how to negotiate.
In order to succeed to their full potential, women must negotiate, and negotiate well. Fortunately, it’s a skill that can be learned.
“In order to succeed to their full potential, women must negotiate, and negotiate well”
Typically, in a business negotiation you will be working with the other parties well after the negotiation is over, so you want to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs while maintaining a positive relationship.
Here are some ways to do that:
Know what you want, and why you want it
Start with a clear desired outcome in mind. As Lawrence J. Peter said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
Understanding your motivation will give you more flexibility in the negotiation; for example, you might be willing to take less vacation if you are allowed time off work to pursue professional development.
Know your bottom line
Know what your bottom line at the outset; if you don’t reach an agreement, what’s your best alternative? You’ll likely face tradeoffs; for example, an opportunity to work on a special project may require longer hours. Knowing your priorities and where to draw the line can stop you from accepting an offer you’ll later regret.
Know what they want and why they want it
What are the other person’s concerns, assumptions and values? Knowing what’s important to them can help you negotiate a deal that meets their needs as well as yours. For example, if you want to take on a new project and your manager wonders whether you’re ready, what checkpoints can you build into your plan to address their concerns?
Knowing what’s important to them can also help ensure you maintain the relationship by focusing on the positive outcomes not just for yourself but for the organization as well.
“Knowing your priorities and where to draw the line can stop you from accepting an offer you’ll later regret”
Ask what is negotiable
Find out what’s negotiable so you know where to focus your efforts. Even if salary isn’t negotiable, something else may be, such as hours of work or certain benefits.
Establish your credibility
Do your research and find out what comparable roles are paying. Be clear on why you deserve what you are asking for — don’t assume it’s obvious. Focus on the value you bring: what you’ve done or can do to help them solve their business issues. Show them what’s in it for them using the language of business, which typically involves money or numbers.
Consider your tone of voice and your language. Some women tend to raise their voice at the end of a sentence, making them sound unsure. The phrase “I believe” imparts more credibility than “I think”.
Negotiate in good faith
You can be honest in a negotiation without laying all your cards on the table. People like to win, so be prepared to concede on some things, but don’t give too much too quickly. If you’ve prepared well, you’ll know where and how much you’re willing to compromise. Avoid ultimatums – you may damage your relationship, and if you give an ultimatum you may need to act on it or else lose credibility.
Recognize that “no” means “no, given how I see things today”. Even if you don’t get what you want today there may be an opportunity to try again later.
End on a positive note
Close all negotiations by clearly outlining the agreement you have reached. Close on a positive note by reviewing progress made, how the solution meets the parties’ needs and so on.
Every day in our personal and professional business we have opportunities to negotiate. Practising this skill leads to greater comfort and success in negotiating, creating mutually beneficial outcomes for all involved.
Marni Johnson is SVP of HR and Communications at BlueShore Financial. Want to know how – and why – she became an expert in the field of Human Resources and negotiation? Get to know her personally.