Men get paid more than women. Whether it’s top Hollywood actresses earning less than their male counterparts, or the recent BBC gender pay gap scandal, this is the message that’s being told every day in the media. But as hard as it may be to hear, it’s important to understand the role that we, as women, play in this bias. Could we be partly to blame?
We have somehow been groomed by society to feel lucky when we’re offered a job, to believe that our great results come only because of a team effort, and to instinctively shy away from the conversations that could get us more money. But now it’s time for us to do our part in changing this. It’s time to ask for a raise!
This situation can be a difficult one to navigate for many people, especially when you feel you aren’t yet equipped; but that’s no reason not to learn and then do it. It’s important to arm yourself first: research, strategize and take action. To help you on your way, we’ve put together these five key steps to take when readying yourself for that all important salary conversation.
1. Do your research
There are many elements involved in how you’re measured at work. Do you understand what is really expected of you, how you can create the most value for your company, and what your growth path is within your workplace? Put in the time to do your research properly and speak to your HR manager if you need to – once you know what’s expected of you and how you can progress it becomes easier for you to track. Compare how you’re getting paid to industry standards and use that as a benchmark for your negotiations. This helps you start the conversation with clear objectives in mind.
2. Be specific and clear in why you deserve it Make a list of what you’ve achieved in the time you’ve been doing your job. Don’t shy away from showing tangible results, how you’ve contributed to the bottom line of the business, as well as how you’ve met and surpassed the expectations that have been set for you. Make sure that you’re focused on what you have to offer that’s unique and specific to you. But remember to avoid comparison with other employees - no one gets a raise from badmouthing or devaluing the work that others do.
3. Choose the right moment
As with most things, there is a time and a place for salary conversations. Speaking to your manager about a raise when they’ve just laid off people isn’t one of those. Neither is after losing a client, or a manager leaving, or even when your work has been mediocre. Choose a time when you’ve done consistently well at work, when you’ve shown not only your worth to your team but also your drive to work to reach new heights. While waiting for the right time is important, do not wait until review time or for someone else to note the work you’re doing. Be your own cheerleader and let your confidence in your work shine through.
4. Can you compromise?
Be ready to be told no, but have other options. Your company may not be in a financial position to offer you the monetary compensation you feel you deserve, but should this happen, what else can they offer? Perhaps you need flexible hours, reimbursements for your work commute or even support to study and get training. A compromise can almost be made, so make sure you have a backup plan in place before having the conversation.
5. Be patient Negotiations take time. Be prepared to wait for a decision to made after having the conversation. You may also have to have a series of conversations, before a final verdict is decided. Be patient and know that it will be worth it in the end!
As they often say, practise makes perfect. Why not, have the salary conversation with a friend or family member first. Their critique and feedback on your approach or content may help you get to a place where you negotiate to win that raise every time.
HANNA GIRLING, wife, mother, business owner, coach, sport enthusiast and forever an optimist.