International Women's Day gives us a reason to highlight women's accomplishments. What is one of the best way for you to honor yours? Negotiate your salary package and get paid more.
It's in our hards. On average, women in the U.S. earn 80 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. You've likely heard that number before, but I'd like you to really think about what it means.
For all the progress that women have made over the past century, how are they--how are we--ever going to close the leadership gap if we can't close the pay gap? If we can't find a way to get paid like leaders, we won't become leaders, not in the same numbers as men.
And the figures for women of color are even worse. On average, African-American women make 63 cents on the (male) dollar, and Latina women 54 cents. And for all women, the gap only widens with age. What is only a modest earning differential for women in their early 20s, four percent, balloons to 26 percent when they start approaching retirement age.
When you crunch the government's labor statistics, you see that progress toward pay parity has actually stalled since 2001. If the rate of change continues at this present pace, women and men will eventually reach pay equity...by the year 2119.
Are you willing to wait that long (and if you're still alive in 2119, please share your anti-aging tips with me)? No.
While you can't, by yourself, overturn entrenched sex discrimination, you can learn to negotiate more effectively for promotions and salary raises and, in the process, puncture some harmful stereotypes that employers have about women in the workplace that they probably don't even realize they have. In fact, it's not true that women are, by nature, bad at negotiation. We effectively advocate for lots of people--our friends, our children, fill in the blanks. But too often, we're not so comfortable advocating for ourselves.
Here's how to make the workplace negotiation game fairer by playing it better.
1. Escape the double bind.
Generally speaking, in our culture, boys are raised to be assertive so when a man pushes for a raise, it's expected behavior, even applauded. But women are caught in a double bind. Society puts a premium on women being likable and diplomatic, so that when they do something as bold as ask for the money they deserve, they often fear they'll be perceived as pushy or greedy.
In my experience, and that of women I've talked to speaking and organizing leadership conferences around the country, when a woman asks for something as directly as a man, sometimes it can backfire. The solution is to re-frame your "ask" as something that's good for everyone: it makes your company or organization a fairer, more equitable place, and better able to retain its valuable employees. Like you.
2. Know your own worth, and quantify it.
Sentences that begin with "I hope....," "I wish....", "I feel..." are negotiation killers. In a negotiation, the onus is on you to collect unassailable facts about your value to the company: "I won this grant, I brought in that contract."
Keep a running tab of your achievements over the course of the year so when you assemble your case -- notes are a good idea -- you've got the facts at the your fingertips. All too often women get a pat on the back as being good team players, but here's your chance to call attention to what you yourself have done. Women often have a horror of being perceived as bragging. Let the facts do the bragging and keep your feelings out of it.
3. Embrace that you're not perfect, and still valueable.
You don't have to be perfect (and no one is) to deserve a new job or promotion. And perfectionism is a classic gender trap.
According to a Hewlett-Packard internal report, when male job hunters saw an HP job listing for which they satisfied at least 60 percent of the requirements, they applied, and figured they'd learn what they didn't know on the fly. Only women who met 100 percent of the requirements applied.
4. Prepare and practice.
Seemingly minor stylistic things actually matter, a lot. Keep your voice steady and firm, and Millennials, don't raise your voice at the end of sentences so it sounds like you're always asking a question. Project self-assurance but use your emotional intelligence to read your negotiating partner's vocal or body language cues to know when to press and when to back off.
And when you've made your case, stop talking! Let silence, even a slightly uncomfortable silence, work for you. The ball is now in your partner's court. The best way to internalize all these techniques? Practice with a friend. Practice, practice, practice.
5. Identify what is important to you.
In a work negotiation, everything is on the table, or should be. Maybe the company doesn't have the flexibility you'd like when it comes to annual salary. Try to make up the difference with benefits, vacation time, flex time, whatever is important to you.
6. Don't wait for your annual performance review.
Take the initiative. If you've done something great for the company, that's likely a good time to schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss your recent job performance. They'll likely understand what's at stake, you don't, and shouldn't, spell it out.