Negotiating your true worth

As I picked up the paper to read about the Government’s new proposal to publish gender pay gap league tables, I couldn’t help but ask myself whether women are in any way responsible for the discrepancy in pay?

Having coached hundreds of men and women over the years, I have noticed that, in general, women are more reticent to ask for a salary rise than their male counterparts. So why is it that so many women struggle to negotiate their true worth?

I think as a rule, women don’t like talking about money, and this is particularly true when they are negotiating their own salary. Many of the working mums I’ve worked with wrongly assume they can’t have flexibility and a higher salary so are not ambitious enough in their “ask.”

So, if you feel you’ve lost sight of your true worth and need help negotiating a better deal, then follow these 4 practical steps: 

4 steps to achieving your true worth:

1. Don’t assume anything

We are often our own worst enemies - talking ourselves out of salary discussions because we assume worst-case scenarios. For example, saying to yourself, “There’s no point asking, they’ll just say no” or “I don’t want to be seen as demanding or difficult” is admitting defeat before you’ve even begun the conversation. So be bold and banish any doubt. Instead adopt a winning mindset, preparing an appropriately ambitious number in your mind so you are ready to go in and have the difficult conversation. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and you may be pleasantly surprised. Even if your boss says ‘No’ for now, the experience should stand you in good stead for your next salary review.

2. Prepare ahead

Careful preparation is the key to negotiating your worth successfully. Take the time to write down a list of why you think you deserve a pay rise. Remember exactly what you have going for you – including the fact that working mums are often the most productive people in the building as they have to leave by a certain time, or have 5 days’ worth of work to do in 4!

Before you actually go to the meeting, take a few minutes to give yourself a pep talk, it may help to imagine you’re telling a friend why they are so good at what they do. By preparing mentally and visualising a positive outcome, you are more likely to kickstart discussions in a confident manner.

3. Use confident language

Talking convincingly about your performance is vital if you are going to win the other side over. All too often, women can undermine their bargaining position by using weak language such as ‘perhaps’ or ‘maybe’. Instead draw on the preparation work you’ve done, and speak confidently, articulating what pay rise you would like and what you have achieved to deserve it. By putting a clear proposal on the table, you are more likely to be taken seriously and move closer to securing your salary increase.

4. Choose the right time to pitch

As with any negotiations, timing will play an important role in the outcome. If budgets are being cut or there is a push to reduce costs prior to a financial year-end, then now is not the right time. However, after a good appraisal, or if you are being asked to take on greater responsibility or know you are under-paid for the role you are doing, then make your move. 

I hope this advice will help you move a step closer to negotiating your true worth and correcting the gender pay gap. We’d love to hear how you get on!

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