While there have been several solid studies that indicate women are less likely to ask for more money when negotiating pay, the most recent studies show that in Australia, women ask for pay rises just as often as men. So unfortunately, closing the pay gap isn’t a simple matter of women asking more often.
The discrepancy those studies did find, is that men are 25 percent more likely to get the pay rise when it’s asked for. On the flip side, for women, it can be damaging.
It’s a fact that makes any woman’s blood boil: a second study found that women who negotiated their pay were seen as far more demanding and less “nice” than those who didn’t. Men who did the same were not penalised in this way, and the study concluded that the difference was due to the fact that women asking for what they wanted went against the social norms expected from them.
As discouraging as this information is, there are ways around it. It simply means the way women need to ask for a raise is different to how men do it. And it is important that you do it, because the stigma and division will lessen the more women in the work place are in the habit of asking. The flow-on effect should mean employers become more used to it, and expect it, rather than judge you for it. The other reason you should be asking is because wage growth in Australia is currently at a record low, and according to a study by Fox Symes, almost 2 million workers say they have not had pay rise in several years.
Here, Medine Simmons, author of How to Get a Pay Rise, gives her advice on how to approach asking for a pay rise when you’re a woman.
Know Your Industry
It’s important to know what others in your position are being paid. Go online to see what people in your industry are earning. Look at job ads with salary indications to guide you on how much to ask for. “Also take into consideration how well your company is performing,” Medine says. If you don’t want to overwhelm them, ask for a small per annum increase of, say, $3,000-$5,000 which equates to under $100 extra per week.
Make Yourself an Attractive Candidate For a Raise
No one is going to give you a pay rise simply for showing up and fulfilling your job brief. You need to go above and beyond. To make yourself more attractive in the lead up to asking for a raise, or in the event your first request is knocked back, offer to do extra tasks, take on more clients, do more courses or things outside of work hours. All these things are reasons to ask for a raise.
“Women are often guilty of taking on extra tasks and thinking someone will notice,” says Medine. “Guess what — often they’re not noticing! By all means take on extra duties, but make sure people know about it.”
Write and rehearse your responses to any questions your manager might ask you about why you think you deserve a pay rise. Talk about things like your strengths, responsibilities, achievements over the year and any way you’ve added value, saved costs, provided good customer service or generated revenue. Pay particular attention to ways in which you’ve gone above and beyond your job description. Don’t compare yourself to others, but do mention any salary shortfall in relation to the industry average.
Think About Your Phrasing
You might be dreading it, but Medine says a simple sentence is all that’s needed to get the ball rolling. “I suggest casually saying something like, ‘I’d like to be considered for a pay rise because I’ve been working here now for two years and I haven’t had one,'” she says. “Don’t say anything else, just let your manager respond. If they then say, ‘No,’ or, ‘I’ll think about it,’ then simply reply, ‘OK thanks, can we review it at some point?’ Let them think about your request and don’t try to give them your spiel at that moment if they don’t seem receptive. If, on the other hand, they ask you explain more, then you could list the reasons why you think you should get one.”
Think About Your Tone
You might have to work yourself up, but don’t go in there guns blazing. It’s important to speak in non-threatening, simple terms. “Remember you are not trying to be confrontational,” says Medine. “If you go in too hard or aggressive, or start complaining, it may backfire on you. Often it’s difficult for managers to get pay rises through and many will do their best to accommodate you. Also, keep it clean. Women tend to get caught up in the moment, blathering on. If you go on and on people can forget what you’re even saying! Keep your sentences concise and let your manager respond.”
Do as Sandberg Says
In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg preaches, “Think personally, act communally.” When it comes to negotiating your wage, this means talking about the collective efforts of your team rather than just your own because it shows you regard others in the company, and should therefore neutralise the backlash women experience from asking for more. The same reasoning stands for why you should site the wage gap and the fact that you feel asking is the right thing to do for your gender when negotiating your wage. Granted, this is annoying advice because it’s playing into the stereotype (and in an ideal world, shouldn’t be necessary) but it is the smart move.
Move on If It’s a Dead End
If your repeated requests for a pay rise are falling on deaf ears, it might be time to consider a new job. Try to go for a business which is doing well. Medine says to also apply the 80/20 rule. “If you can do 80 per cent of the tasks a new job is calling for and are unsure about 20 per cent of it, then it’s still worth applying. If you always just stick to what you know you’ll never advance.”
Get Over Your Imposter Syndrome
Women tend to make up a whole host of reasons in their mind for not asking for a pay rise. Including: I don’t do a good enough job anyway so probably don’t deserve one, I’ll look like a pest for asking, I might annoy my manager and I don’t want to rock the boat. “These are all self-limiting beliefs,” says Medine. “It is in no way cheeky, rude, annoying or out of line to ask for a raise. Everyone who’s a manager knows that people asking for raises is to be expected. This is your life you are talking about. As long as you ask respectfully, no one will begrudge you for that.”