Women and salary negotiation. Do you know your own market-value?

Salary negotiation from a position of strength

We wouldn’t dream of selling our homes without knowing it’s value on the market.  Why do we approach salary negotiation from a place of ignorance or misinformation,

Price awareness

We live in a culture where most women know the the value of their homes on the property market. We are reminded daily of minute percentage movements on global stock exchanges and unemployment figures.  Women know the price of most things from the cost of a business suit to a plumber or a baby sitter. They account for 85% of consumer purchasing decisions. What most don’t bother to check out is the value of possibly their greatest asset. Themselves.

I have had two contacts this week from women who have discovered signficant salary differentials either between themselves and their male colleagues, or general market benchmarks for their job.

Women and negotiation

There is much information in the public domain to suggest that women don’t negotiate hard enough, or even at all, in the area of compensation. This insidious differential starts across the world at entry-level in a wide variety of sectors and stays with many women throughout their careers. This is true,  even for those who have invested in their personal development to acquire an MBA. Research shows that women generally earn 80% of men.

And when they do try to negotiate, unlike their male counterparts instead of being viewed as enterprising dynamos, they are seen in much less favourable terms, frequently as money grabbing b$x*£€s. At a time of economic austerity many are reluctant to step up and re-negotiate.

Basic minimum

The most important thing for women is to have an idea of their own value on the open market. If they decide they don’t want to negotiate their compensation package, this decision should be taken from a position of being well-informed. No one would dream of putting their houses on the market without checking out the value, then why do it to themselves?

How to check?

  • Network:  with people in your field and sector.  Asking people what they earn in many cultures is considered to be indiscreet and on par with asking a woman about her weight, age or credit card number. However it is possible to get ball park figures and salary range via sensitive discussion.
  • Advertisements: many job advertisements carry salary scales. Keep a watchful eye on job boards and the press in the same way you might monitor house prices.
  • Online resources:  there are many free salary survey resources online. Check out  salary.com, glassdoor.com and payscale.com which has a  global reach.
  • Overview:  It’s always useful to have an overview of what’s going on in terms of salaries (especially as they’re being frozen). Most business media carry regular pieces on this topic and  LinkedIn has a Compensation and Benefits Forum where general compensation issues are discussed from a management perspective.
  • General package: get up to speed not just on the salary segment of your compensation, but on where your total benefits package lies on the market spectrum. If your salary is lower, do you have other perks which are just as important such as remote working or flexi-time?  Perhaps you can’t leverage a higher salary, but are there other benefits that might be useful?

We would never consider buying or selling anything without being aware of its value. We simply have to stop doing this to ourselves.

What do you think?

If you need help with your career transition – get in touch now.

7 thoughts on “Women and salary negotiation. Do you know your own market-value?

  1. Annabel

    Too true. As a woman who negotiates workplace related things constantly I have to add that women who are reluctant to negotiate often wait until they are really upset and then hit their boss with a big sense of grievance and a lot of emotional heat. This doesn’t help. My top tips are:

    1) Don’t wait till your cross or if you do wait till you aren’t
    2) Ask someone who knows what they are doing to help you to plan a strategy of how to approach this which will include
    a) What do you want to achieve
    b) What are they likely to want to achieve
    c) What do you need to demonstrate or do to get their?
    d) Have you got it all together in terms of skills/achievements
    e) Can you prove it?
    f) What is your negotiating strategy?
    g) How will you handle relationships during this process
    3) Have a real idea of what your alternatives are in terms of moving on to another job, staying where you are – know where the ‘wiggle’ room is!

  2. Wendy Mason

    Great advice here from both you and Annabel. This is an area where I think most women feel uncomfortable – many of us are not used to valuing ourselves in terms of the market. But we should. We deserve what others are receiving for the same contribution!

  3. careertrend | Master Resume Writer

    What an important topic you have broached!

    I remember one of my first full-time ‘career jobs’ right out of college, and the (at the time, ‘intimidating’) male manager who also was the head honcho (executive director) of the association asked (when offering the position to me): “What is the lowest salary you would accept?”

    Bottom line: I accepted the position and worked for the company, and I did ‘not’ negotiate based on my value.

    In retrospect, I was VERY unprepared for the salary negotiations aspect of the conversation, and in particular, that question. I don’t believe, in the 5 years I was with that organization, I ever recovered from that lack of negotiation skills at the start of my job.

    Suffice it to say, over the years, through various professional development opportunities and gains in professional maturity (as well as hard knock regrets at my earlier unpreparedness), I gained valuable knowledge on interviewing and salary negotiations that have served me well to this day.

    Thank you for your poignant article on an extremely important topic!


    1. Dorothy Dalton

      Thanks for your comment Jacqui – There are many aspects to the women and salary negotiation issue, but key is knowing our own value. We have to know our own strengths and how they are valued on the job market.

  4. Pingback: 5 things to do before negotiating your salary - 3Plus International

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