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How to feel confident to ask for a higher salary
07 March 2016
During a recent coaching conversation, a client was sharing with me that she had accidentally been sent the salary package details of a male colleague. He held an equivalent role to her, had similar years of experience and level of skill. She was horrified to learn that her salary was about $60,000 less than his salary.
During our coaching we were able to determine that throughout her 20-year career she had never negotiated her salary, she had always accepted the first offer when it was given to her and she didn’t really know what her salary should be.
Her story is not unique. Does it sound familiar to you? There are many questions that need to be answered here such as, how did her company allow this obvious pay gap to exist? Why wasn’t she offered the same salary to her male colleague if she was in an equivalent role with the same years of experience and level of skill?
I am really passionate about influencing organisations to close the gender pay gap and eradicating biases against women across the board. For this article though, I want to share four super-practical tips that I have learnt through my coaching and development experience that can empower you to ask for a higher salary:
1. Be persistent
Don’t settle for the first salary that is offered to you. WGEA research found that's a contributing factor to the gender pay gap is that women often accept the first salary that is offered to them’ (1). Women should keep in mind the objective they are trying to achieve with their salary package, and if it is not met, then they should persist until they achieve that objective.
If you ask for a higher salary and the organisation says, ‘we’ll consider it’, follow them up after a reasonable time frame and continue to follow them up regularly. The company won’t chase you to give you a pay increase, you need to chase them, constructively!
2. Have the courage to ask questions
Ask HR or your Manager what the salary band is for your role. Once you know the salary band and you can see where your salary sits on that band, ask them why your salary is at that point on the band to ensure that you are placed at the right level and band position.
Be ok to ask for more. In her book, Women Don’t Ask, Linda Babcock talks about a case study of MBA graduates. In that study, they found that ‘7% of female graduates negotiated their starting salary versus 57% of male graduates. This cost those female graduates on average $4000 from their starting salaries’ (2).
3. Be in the know
Review salary data that is specific to your industry to gain an objective view of what you should be paid.
Seek external views so that you can understand an objective viewpoint. For example, you could contact recruitment agents who are recruiting for similar roles, and seeking like experience and skill, to understand what they are paying for current advertised roles.
4. Take your time
Don’t feel like you have to respond immediately. Listen to the salary offer, ask questions and ask for some time to consider the offer.
Do your calculations on the offer and its inclusions so that you are comparing the whole package on offer with your total package expectations.
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