Negotiation Tips and Strategies To Close the Gender Pay Gap
Updated April 25, 2023
On the heels of Women’s History Month and Equal Pay Day, Tech Up For Women™ hosted a webinar about salary negotiation strategies for women. The featured panelists from Indeed, Glassdoor and Harvard Business School Online weighed in on the importance of pay transparency, strategies for closing the gender pay gap, and how women and non-male identifying individuals can prepare for their next salary negotiation.
In this article, we pass along the advice of these top industry professionals to help you advocate for yourself during your next job interview or annual performance review.
8 tips for negotiating your pay
Tech Up For Women is a platform that advises on women’s issues in the workplace. They recently brought together a seasoned panel of professionals, including Jessica Jensen, Indeed’s chief marketing officer; Amanda Runner, chief marketing officer at Glassdoor; and Cristina de la Cierva, senior director of marketing and product management at Harvard Business School Online. They offered tips and insights into one of the most tricky professional dilemmas; how to negotiate for better pay. Here are their top 8 tips:
1. Go into the conversation data-ready
Use resources like Indeed and Glassdoor to explore what a typical salary range is for your desired role in your particular location. You can leverage that data to determine whether the compensation posted is fair and to ground the conversation.
Data shows employers that what you’re asking for is reasonable and based on an understanding of the broader marketplace. It also highlights that you’ve done your research and enables you to approach the conversation with less anxiety.
As Runner said during the webinar, “When approached well, with a clear perspective on what you’re looking for and why and how you [can] bring value to the company that’s distinct from other candidates, it can be a real positive first interaction or later interaction with your employer or boss.”
2. Prepare your boss for the conversation
One way to ease your nerves, per de la Cierva, is to make your ask via email in advance of your next meeting with your manager.
“I generally write an email to my manager before having the discussion that lays out all the internal and external data points about why what I’m asking for is justified,” de la Cierva said. “I think someone can feel a little taken aback if this is the conversation in a one-on-one if they’re not prepared.”
On your end, you can avoid needing to memorize the data and getting flustered with the details. Your manager then has time to mull over your proposal or even check in with human resources to determine what’s possible, enabling you to both come to the meeting more prepared for a productive conversation.
3. Pretend you’re not the one asking for a raise
A Glassdoor survey found that 85% of women believe they deserve a pay raise, yet only 68% have tried negotiating one. The biggest barrier is the fear of being denied.
If you’ve gathered all the data and still feel nervous, Runner recommended considering what advice you’d give to someone on your team or how you might advocate on their behalf.
Thinking about how she’d approach the conversation for someone else has helped Runner conquer the feeling that she’s asking for too much. If you’d support an employee or colleague’s request, you can feel more confident making the same case for yourself.
4. Don’t share your salary expectations
Some hiring managers might ask what you make in your current role or what you expect to earn in a new position.
“You don’t have to answer,” Jensen said. “You should be receiving the pitch, not making the pitch because the likelihood you’ll lowball your value is very high.”
Instead, Jensen encouraged entering the conversation knowing what you should make based on research, and letting the offer come to you. So if you’re asked that question, you can gently redirect the conversation to the market salary range for your position and let the hiring manager provide specific salary details for their open role.
5. Create a plan to renegotiate your salary
It’s crucial to remember that salary negotiation isn’t a one-time deal. If you receive a job offer that doesn’t fully align with your needs, Jensen suggested noting upfront that at the six-month mark you’d like to review your performance and goals and renegotiate your compensation.
“It can give you the opening to remind them that you don’t think you’re being compensated well enough but that you’re willing to prove your value to the organization,” Jensen said.
De la Cierva emphasized this isn’t the only time you should have a compensation conversation. “Once you accept an offer, you should be checking in on your market value year after year to make sure that you continue to be getting paid where you want to be.”
6. Remember, it’s not just about pay
While salary is important, it’s only part of a bigger benefits package. When negotiating your pay, also consider factors such as:
Hybrid or remote work flexibility
Allotted personal, sick and vacation time
Health care benefits
Bonus pay structure
Tuition assistance for lifelong learning
“We’re all spending a lot of time at work and want to feel appreciated there, which, in turn, leads to greater satisfaction,” de la Cierva said. “If your pay specifically isn’t where you want it to be, there are other levers you can turn to to find value and happiness with your job.”
Take stock of what you want in your next role—beyond salary—and advocate for that when negotiating.
7. Normalize the conversation
Talking about pay and benefits can feel uncomfortable, yet it’s important to practice. Not only can it help increase pay transparency, but it might surface helpful advice or pay inequities.
“I frequently ask women, ‘Do you think you’re being paid fairly? Do you have any questions or concerns about your compensation?’” Jensen said. “If we, as managers, normalize that conversation and women coming into roles normalize that conversation, everything is better for everyone.”
Jensen also suggested finding male allies in your company you can turn to for advice and support. Through those conversations, you could uncover a pay gap and leverage that data to advocate for yourself.
8. Brush up on your negotiation skills
If you’re still nervous about your next salary negotiation, explore resources that can help you improve your negotiation skills. Jensen recommended a book by Columbia Law School Professor Alexandra Carter called Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything.
If you’re interested in developing and practicing negotiation techniques, HBS Online offers a course called Negotiation Mastery. The eight-week certificate program features real-world examples from industry-leading experts and lets you apply what you learn through simulations. Throughout the course, you practice negotiating with peers who provide feedback on your performance.
How does pay transparency impact salary negotiations?
Pay transparency is when a company openly communicates compensation and salary ranges to prospective and current employees. In 2019, Colorado passed its Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, becoming the first state to require companies to include a position’s salary or pay range and description of benefits in every job posting. Several cities and states have since enacted similar policies, including New York City, Washington, Rhode Island, and California.
Salary ranges arm employees with the data to negotiate more equitable pay. This is particularly important when women in the United States earn 79 cents to every dollar a man makes, according to Glassdoor data. Across racial and ethnic groups, the disparity is even higher: for Hispanic women, that number drops to 76 cents; for Black women, it’s 71 cents.
As Runner pointed out during the webinar, “Proactive pay transparency and engaging with these new policies and laws is one way for an employer to help remove barriers so that we can begin to take the multiple steps required to get us all the way to closing the pay gap.”
The benefits of pay transparency
The good news is that pay transparency has become increasingly popular. Indeed found that more than 40% of US job postings on its site now include employer-provided salary information—a 137% increase since February 2020. This knowledge provides several benefits during salary negotiations.
It provides better bargaining leverage
“Knowledge is power,” Jensen said during the webinar. “If you know, as a worker, what you should expect to be paid in a given location for a given role at a given seniority level, you come to that salary negotiation with power. Employers need to understand that, in the fight for great talent, job seekers are expecting this transparency, wanting it, and engage more actively in jobs and opportunities that share that information.”
It can drive more applications
An Indeed survey shows that 75% of individuals are more likely to apply for a job with compensation information included, and 56% said they’d be more likely to apply to a company whose name they don’t recognize if its postings feature a salary range.
It can boost employee retention
Pay transparency benefits more than just new hires. Data from Indeed shows that current employees are happier, more motivated, and likelier to stay at a company when they feel they’re paid fairly. It’s also indicative of a company’s culture.
It communicates company culture
“Pay transparency is the subtext to what a company’s larger culture is all about,” de la Cierva said during the webinar. “It sends a broader message about treating people fairly, having a culture of openness and clear communication, and that you can manage performance consistently. Transparency is important not just in that number, but also in how you can progress in your career at an organization over time.”
It benefits both employers and employees
The bottom line: More companies should practice pay transparency whether their states legally require it or not.
“It’s good for employers, it’s good for workers, and the only way we’ll move the needle here is on having that transparent information and using it to actively negotiate,” Jensen said.
Runner expressed a similar view. “We believe deeply that transparency is critical to shining a light in dark corners and helping advance positive progress for workplace experience.”
Jensen echoed that sentiment, calling on organizations and their leaders to drive change. “It’s imperative for all of us as leaders and workers to know what we deserve to make and to advocate for it. As hiring managers and leaders, it’s incumbent upon all of us to help women and non-male identifying workers get what’s due to them.”
Are you interested in making your next negotiation successful? Explore Indeed and Glassdoor for the tips and data you need, and consider taking HBS Online’s negotiation course to secure maximum value for yourself and your organization through a mastery of negotiation techniques.
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