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SME Business News

Gender pay gap tip for women: Learn to negotiate

  • Written by Julia Ewert


According to a recent report by the ABS, $12,558 (or 14%) is the average amount that men are paid more than women per year. In the financial and insurance services industry, that gap is as much as 24.4%. Imagine earning a quarter less than your equivalent male counterpart, for the same job! In fact we could go as far as saying that some women work even harder in equivalent positions given the bonus elements of complexity brought about by being a senior female in a leadership role… but let’s not get started on that!

What if there was a way to close the gap?

The gender pay gap discussion is a global topic with people far and wide weighing into the debate of how it came about and what to do about it.

Whilst we can’t solve the global problem easily, this article aims to provide one single thing that women can do, in order to close this gap.

Well, two things actually.

1. Don’t stand for it

2. Learn to negotiate

No doubt you’re all saying, “it’s a lot easier said than done!” and negotiation expert, Julia Ewert tends to agree. “If my two strategies above were easy-peasy, then this problem wouldn’t exist,” she says, “but it does and here we are.” Ewert goes on to offer the following insights and advice to business women nationally:

In general, women tend not to negotiate

There is a lot of focus with this issue on women in senior leadership positions. However it would be even better to find a way to help all women, irrespective of industry, experience or seniority. Imagine if we could help young women entering the workforce for the first time, or the daughters of our senior leaders?

Ewert goes on to say, “it kills me a little each time I hear a woman tell me that they couldn’t possibly ask for a pay rise, or that they’ve never asked for a pay rise, or that they’ve never counter-offered on a new employment contract.”

“If I had a dollar for every person (male or female) who avoided a pay-rise conversation or conducted it poorly, then I may have solved the gender pay-gap problem purely through donating my dollars earned to those affected!”

“My work as a business consultant and professional negotiator has exposed me to countless women who are terrified of asking their boss for more money and here’s how this usually goes:

Me: Why don’t you talk to your boss about it and ask for a pay rise?

Women: I could never do that. How do I do that? What do I say? What if they say no?”

Plot Twist

Your boss is unlikely to walk up to your desk and simply hand you a pay-rise.

“Now, I’m not saying the below tips are super simple. They will certainly take you out of your comfort zone, however if you’re not prepared to go into battle for yourself, who will? And if you’re not prepared to do it, then you need to settle for the existing situation,” says Ewert.

Here are Ewert’s five tips to help you negotiate your remuneration.

1. Actually negotiate. Or at least try.

Any attempt is better than no attempt. It takes courage to do this, but surely you’re worth it, right?

2. Ask your boss for an opportunity to discuss your remuneration

This is the courageous and right way: face to face conversation. The wrong way is to send them an email (sorry, email is just not going to cut it!)

Yes, this will be challenging. But some things that are challenging are also necessary. And some things that are challenging and necessary are also incredibly rewarding.

Swing by your boss’s desk and ask: “Hi Mark/Lucy”. I’m wondering if we could make a time together to discuss my remuneration please. I’d like to get my thoughts together before we meet, so how about next week sometime?

No doubt some of you dying on the inside as you read that.

What’s the worst that can happen by asking this? Will anyone actually die? Imagine if it worked!

3. Ask questions.

When you meet, try asking some questions to explore the possibility of a pay rise. Try:

  • May I ask what it might look like for me to receive an XX% pay increase?
  • If I was to increase revenue/reduce downtime/exceed KPIs by X%/etc, would you be open to discussing a pay increase?
  • I’m interested to discuss my remuneration and in particular about bringing it into line with market rates/others within the company. What are your thoughts on that?

4. Make it easy for them to say yes

Don’t ask for a pay rise if you’re behind on your KPI targets – you’ll just make it easy for them to say no.

You want to put yourself in a position for it to be a no-brainer to increase your remuneration.If you exceed your deliverables, behave in line with the company values and aren’t a jerk, then you’ve got good cause to hit them up.

If you’re currently more behind than ahead of your KPIs, set yourself a goal to exceed them for the next quarter and then ask.

5. Look for alternatives

If an increase in actual salary isn’t viable, present some other alternatives.

A day off, increased flexibility (which in all honesty, should not really need to be used as leverage in this day and age), increased annual leave, reduced hours or an investment in training could all be options up for debate.

The Gender pay-gap still has a long way to go until global equality occurs, however learning to negotiate is one way to start looking out for yourself. It has to start somewhere.

To learn more about negotiation or for some coaching before you ask for that pay rise, go to www.juliaewert.com.

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