Have we really found our voices? Top ways for women to negotiate a pay rise

Woman and pay rise

With a recent study by Currys PC World unearthing that women are 26 per cent less likely to demand a pay rise than their male counterparts, it poses the question – have women really found their voices in the workplace or is gender inequality still very much rife?  

Despite initiatives to close the gender pay gap, and laws forcing larger companies to publish their gender pay gap figures, BBC data (April 2019) revealed that 79 per cent of the biggest companies in Britain still report a pay gap in favour of men.

So, what can women do to prove their worth and negotiate the pay rise they deserve?

Arm yourself with information

The key to success in a salary negotiation is preparation. Information is power after all – so do your research to find out what competitors are paying for your role and level of experience. If it’s significantly higher than what you are currently being paid, you can use this as leverage to negotiate a raise.

Of course, your value to the company should really do the talking, so take the time to think about your achievements to date, drawing attention to quantifiable data, as well as what you can offer to the business going forward.

Get your timing right

Sometimes the outcome of your negotiation can be largely dictated by the timing of your request. If you’re aware that the business has been facing financial difficulties, it’s unlikely that they’re going to be able to grant you a pay rise. Yet, on the contrary, if they’ve just had a couple of big wins, it could be the perfect time to ask the question. Your own personal timing at the company will also be relevant, for example, if it’s your work anniversary or you’ve recently taken on new responsibilities.

Lots of companies will hold an annual salary review of all employees, which provides the ideal opportunity for you to argue your case. If not, you may need to be a little more proactive about it and organise a meeting yourself. Even if your direct manager doesn’t have the deciding factor, you should always approach them first to discuss your request. They will then be able to inform you on what you need to do next or what they can do to help you.

Watch your language and tone

Negotiating isn’t a skill that comes naturally to many people and if you’re new to it, it’s likely that nerves and uncertainty will come into play. When it comes to these kinds of conversations, women are particularly prone to using phrases such as “I think” and “maybe” to sound less demanding, however, this can make your argument less persuasive. A bit of self-awareness and control over your tone and language could make a huge difference, so if you’re using an upturned tone or submissive statements, swap them for more assertive wording and a confident tone.

Be the one to make the first offer

Once you have outlined your case and explained why you believe you deserve a pay rise, be confident and ask for what you want. Being the first person to make an offer could help you anchor the discussions in your favour, so don’t shy away from quoting a figure. And if you need time to think an offer over, there’s nothing wrong with letting them know that you need to sleep on it before accepting.

In the end, if your employer isn’t willing or able to offer more money, there are other options available to you to negotiate, such as extra annual leave, flexible working options or training opportunities.

When it comes to asking for more money, the best part of us will feel uncomfortable or nervous doing so. Women can be great negotiators, however, and we all deserve to see a positive change in the gender pay gap going forward. Be confident and know your worth – by going in prepared and asking for what you want, there’s every chance you’ll achieve the desired outcome.

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