Professional Development

Why women rarely negotiate their salary (and why they should start)

Written by Guest Contributor

At the start of 2020, a study by staffing firm Randstad US revealed that 60% of women have never negotiated their salary with an employer. In fact, 72% of the women surveyed said they are more likely to seek out a new job entirely for an increase in pay rather than negotiate with their current employer.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding a new position might have seemed easier, but given the current economic crisis, women must abandon their limiting beliefs about negotiating pay and start asking for more money. For a variety of reasons ranging from inhibiting work environments to concerns for their relationships in the workplace, women are hesitant to participate in salary negotiations, however. Young women, in particular, are reluctant to discuss wages with current or potential employers. Women rarely negotiating their salary has a slew of negative consequences for the women themselves as well as workplaces, employers, and the economy as a whole. Companies should strive to make their work environments and interview processes more conducive to salary negotiations. Similarly, women can make a plan to be more proactive about discussing pay so that they may reap the benefits of being paid what they are worth.

Reasons women don’t negotiate their salary

There are a variety of factors contributing to women’s reluctance to negotiate their salary. A significant portion of the blame lies with companies that have failed to create an environment that encourages regular and open conversation with its employees about the path to earning a raise. At the time of the Randstad US survey, just over half of the female respondents said they were considering leaving their jobs due to feeling underpaid.

High rates of employee turnover aren’t good for the success of companies or the economy. Rather than leaving women to seek out lateral moves to improve their salaries, companies and employers must cultivate a workplace culture that supports pay negotiations. One way to do this is by scheduling regular evaluations with employees and setting aside time for salary negotiations. Similarly, when writing a job posting, HR managers should consider leaving the salary as “negotiable” in the advertisement.

From the standpoint of the employee, a leading reason that women rarely negotiate their salaries is because talking about money is widely viewed as taboo. Women are more likely than men to be concerned with how asking for a pay raise might affect their workplace relationships. Doing so can be especially difficult in workplaces where women are in the minority such as trade jobs including construction workers, electricians, plumbers, and truck drivers.

Furthermore, many women don’t know how to approach a salary negotiation because they never learned the skills to do so. In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Equal Pay Negotiations Founder and equal pay expert Katie Donovan said that career centers only recently started teaching negotiating techniques as part of preparing for job interviews. Even when women do ask for higher pay, a report in the report published in the Journal of Economy and Society exposes the unfortunate findings that women are frequently unsuccessful in their salary negotiations. The research examined 4,600 employees across 800 workplaces and revealed that women’s requests for advancements are treated differently than their male counterparts.

Benefits of negotiating salary

While all these reasons make it understandably intimidating to negotiate your salary, asking for more money from your current or potential employer has a myriad of benefits. Most obviously, being paid what you’re worth comes with financial rewards such as the ability to save for big purchases and improving your credit score. Other advantages are more subtle but can have a great impact on your career.

When you ask your employer for more money, it’s an opportunity to prove your value to the company. Salary negotiations set the stage for you to sell yourself and highlight the important role you play in the success of your organization. Ideally, one of your colleagues or superiors would sing your praises to the boss, but the truth of the matter is you need to be your own advocate.

Negotiating your salary will put you on your boss’s radar while simultaneously boosting your self-esteem. Being paid the salary you think you deserve will increase your job satisfaction and encourage you to grow with your current company rather than seeking work elsewhere. Finally, more women negotiating their salary could help to eventually close the gender wage gap.

Tips for successfully negotiating your salary

If you know you’re not getting the compensation you deserve, it’s time to talk to your employer about your salary. Having an honest and open conversation with your employer, in most cases, requires far less effort than looking for a new job. Instead of spending the time to ready your resume and sit through rounds of interviews, schedule a meeting with your manager or HR representative.

To prepare for the meeting, list out what you currently do for your company that is not explicitly listed in your job description as well as what new responsibilities you’re willing to take on. Using databases such as Glassdoor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, research average salaries for your position so you know what recalculations might be possible. Being open to compromise is critical.

Whether you’re in the hiring process or talking with your current employer, ask about implementing a plan (with a specific timeline) for how you can get a salary increase. Make sure to provide a range, and when you receive a final offer, don’t forget to ask for the negotiated salary in writing.

Being paid what you are worth is the basis of a satisfying career. However, women are still less likely to negotiate their salary than men. Putting aside traditional taboos and prioritizing salary negotiations is essential for women in the workplace today and in the future. With the right plan in place, you can successfully negotiate your salary.

About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.

About the author

Guest Contributor