As women leaders, we tend to go into a salary negotiation and talk about what we have done, what we have accomplished and why we now deserve a raise or a particular amount of money based on the past rather than focusing on the big picture and our overall strength and potential.
For some reason, many women have a harder time than men asking for their value, and the pay gap is apparent in our world today. That is not to discredit or judge men. I have worked with wonderful men over the years, many of whom have been great mentors to me. My father was one of them. He was empowering me, even as a young woman, to ask for what I was worth.
It’s simply a difference in how men and women operate, and we can both learn a lot from one another if we listen.
In refreshing news, I was reading this article about Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, and how when it was brought to his attention in 2015 by chief personnel officer, Cindy Robbin, that there was an issue in the pay gap between men and women at his company, he took action.
He dedicated millions of dollars to fix the problem and continues to do so when discrepancies arise. A section on their website outlines their commitment to pay fairness, outlining how they perform an annual equal pay assessment. I encourage you to read what they are doing.
While I hope more companies will take action as Salesforce has done, it’s our opportunity as women to stand in our power and ask for what we want to truly bring change to the issue.
When we accept less because we feel bad or are not confident asking for more, we perpetuate the problem. It’s uncomfortable to ask for money. It’s uncomfortable to promote ourselves or feel like we have to justify what we are asking for, but wouldn’t it feel nice to leave all that behind and simply just expect to be paid what you deserve? To not feel like you owe anyone an explanation as to why? As women, we do like to justify ourselves, at times even apologize.
It takes practice, but once you get into the habit, you will become more and more confident in your next ask.
I was recently chatting with a young woman who was about to accept her first, big job offer. A friend told her she should negotiate her salary and not take the first offer. Her initial thought was, “But, it’s more money than I am making now.”
How many times have we said this to ourselves? It doesn’t matter that this compensation is higher than our current one. Jobs come with different responsibilities and expectations. Align the responsibility, position and result with the value, own it, and ask for it.
This not only goes for salary, it also goes for your service offerings. I was recently in a sales meeting with the CEO of a major company and he asked me to ballpark my contract numbers.
I actually get this question a lot and I never answer. I always turn it back around and ask about their budget. They are usually very honest with where they are coming from and it turns into a great conversation. I always relay that I need to get back to my desk before putting together a fully, thought-out proposal, and everyone has always accepted this and been very happy going forward.
There is also power in sitting in silence. Let someone answer or not answer. Take a moment. Pause. You don’t have to fill every inch of the conversation. You also don’t have to say something you don’t believe in or expect. Take a deep breath, hold a steady gaze. Don’t look down or away. Stand in your power. Earn your worth. Every single time.
Know every time you go into a negotiation, you have to be willing to walk away if it’s not right in the end. Never just say yes. Never give more and put yourself in a position to resent doing the work. It does not end well in client relations.
The ability to negotiate is a tool we need for true success in business. Whether you are running an established company, starting a new one, scaling up quickly, or even getting ready to sell, you are going to be talking money.
True growth is not a comfortable place. As women, we need to help one another, be supportive, be mentors, empower each other and all work together to make equal pay not a dream, but a reality.
Ivy Slater is the CEO of Slater Success and a professionally certified business coach, speaker, podcast host, and internationally best-selling author of her book From The Barre To The Boardroom: Choreographing Business Success Through Authentic Relationships