It was almost fifteen years ago that research from Linda Babcock at Carnegie Mellon found just seven percent of women negotiated a salary offer, compared to 57% of men. Fast forward to 2017 and millennial women are reported to negotiate more than their male counterparts (30% compared to 26%), and they’re more likely to be successful.
But, whilst women in their late twenties and upwards are negotiating more and being more successful at it, they are getting less in the long run. A recent Australian study also found that women who negotiate their salary still receive less money than their male counterparts.
Mind the gap. It’s also great news the gender gap is shrinking: The Guardian reports that the gender pay gap between men and women in their twenties is down to 5%. But, as the Resolution Foundation predicts, this is likely to rise to 30% by the time women get to their mid-forties.
So what does this mean for salary negotiation, pay rises, or even scholarship offers?
We caught up with Crystal Grant and Sarmini Ghosh who gave their advice on how to tackle pay negotiations successfully. Crystal is Head of Admissions at Imperial College Business School, and Sarmini is a Careers Consultant at the Career and Professional Development Service.
Ask for more from the start. Crystal explains, “If you accept a lower salary in the early years of your career, it will be compounded over the years as every future pay rise will be affected by having started out by settling for less than you deserve”.
“In the corporate world, if you don’t negotiate for more, you will be at a disadvantage,” Sarmini says.
“Over time a woman might be in the same job as their male counterpart but if they are not negotiating for more when men are, their male colleagues are always going to be on a higher salary and that gap gets wider and wider.”
Preparation is key. One piece of advice that hasn’t changed since the publication of Linda Babcock’s research is that preparation leads to better pay outcomes for women.
“Negotiating your pay can be a daunting prospect, but you can build your confidence by preparing well,” Crystal says, “Research salaries within the sector or company so you know that your demands are reasonable and fair.”
Change the discussion. Sarmini suggests that it doesn’t always work for women to focus only on what they’ve achieved in the past in salary negotiations.
“Set out what you can do for the organisation in the near future and the value you add” she says. “Give specific examples as evidence, for example a project you’ve performed well on, and say “this is what you’ll get for your investment””.
Do your research. “You’ll add value to your case by aligning your strengths to the company’s strategic objectives,” Crystal says.
Total salary is important but don’t overlook other opportunities. “Be creative with your negotiations,” Crystal advises.
“Ask for performance-related incentives, benefits, flexibility or international travel, and outline clearly how your requests will benefit the company as well.” A study from Harvard researchers also suggests it’s important to ask: should you always negotiate a salary offer?
You hold the power. Remember, companies invest considerable time and effort in recruiting the right people, so if you receive a job offer there’s a window of time before you accept it. “This is your opportunity to negotiate your pay, so plan in advance to avoid being caught off guard and saying “yes” before you’ve had a chance to discuss terms,” Crystal says.
Negotiation is a desirable job skill. For senior job roles, for example a senior sales manager or in banking or law, being a good negotiator is what it takes to be successful. “Companies expect you to show that kind of confidence that you’re not going to go for the first offer,” Sarmini says.
Get advice. Reach out to friends who’ve been on both sides of the negotiation table and share your success stories as well. “By supporting each other,” Crystal says, “we can close the gender pay gap faster”.
The most important thing? “Believe in yourself – this is a time to be bold,” Crystal says.
On Wednesday 14 March, Giuseppe Conti will deliver a workshop to Full-Time MBA students on salary negotiation. With a background in blue chip leadership, Giuseppe is a regular author on LinkedIn and lectures in negotiation at several high-ranking European business schools, including ESADE, HEC Paris and Oxford.