According to Forbes, only thirty percent of women negotiate their salaries compared to forty-six percent of men. This statistic poses an important question: why do women not negotiate their salary with employers? Many women are afraid to negotiate for fear of being seen as greedy or difficult by employers. On the contrary, men are seen as leaders when they ask to negotiate their salary.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Undergraduate Business Women’s Association alumna Lesley Horstman about her experience negotiating. Lesley graduated from The Ohio State University in 2013 specializing in Marketing. She currently works as a Marketing Specialist at Covetrus, an animal health company that operates as a distributor to veterinarians.
First, preparation is key. Lesley told me that preparing for negotiation can take some of the intimidation away and make a woman feel more comfortable asking for a higher salary. She recommends starting your research by “[looking] at reputable sources online” for “salary levels for similar positions” and “salary ranges.” LinkedIn has a section on the career portion of their website that discusses salary. Once you have concluded your research, if you find a discrepancy with the salary you have been offered and the salaries common for your position, negotiate for a higher compensation.
Secondly, reflect on your time at the company. Sit down and list your major accomplishments and successes in your current role. Does your current salary reflect those accomplishments? When Leslie looked at the salary that was offered with her promotion, the answer was no. She sent an email to the executives at her company explaining why she deserved more. In her email, she highlighted detailed examples of her accomplishments over her three years at the company, describing how her work positively impacted the organization.
Since many women are made to feel they should be happy to have gotten their role in the first place, they often have a hard time feeling that they deserve more. Actress Brie Larson addressed this concern at the 2019 Women in the World Summit by saying “don’t even do it for you if that makes you feel weird right now, do it for the women that are going to come after you.” Bravely negotiating your salary could set a precedent for women to not accept less than what they are worth. This is a great tactic to use if you are having a difficult time convincing yourself you deserve higher compensation.
Furthermore, breaking the taboo nature of discussing money and compensation can work to help women feel comfortable negotiating. In many workplaces, discussing salary with coworkers and superiors is discouraged or even forbidden. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for women to ask for fair compensation when renegotiating their salary. In 2017, women on average were paid eighty percent of what men were paid. If we create an environment where all workers feel comfortable having candid conversations about their salaries, then we can work to close the wage gap through negotiation. Although conversations about salaries among coworkers are still considered taboo, introducing these conversations into the workplace will ensure that all employees have the necessary information to fight unjust salary discrimination.
Overall, preparation and research can help women feel comfortable negotiating the salary they deserve. A woman’s negotiation efforts have the power to set a precedent for the women after them; the efforts of one woman can make a difference in a company. It is important to acknowledge that you deserve a higher salary, and you are not difficult or greedy for wanting more.