It's been more than 50 years since the Equal Pay Act, but pay disparity -- a woman makes about 77.5 cents for every dollar earned by a man -- is still a hydra that's hard to fix, and the blame is hard to place. One thing that's certain: Women don't negotiate their pay as often as men.
Only 7 percent of women attempted to negotiate their salary compared to 57 percent of men in a 2003 study of MBA students conducted by Linda Babcock, professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University and author of "Women Don't Ask." Are there things that working women could learn from professional men when it comes to the art of the deal?
Men might be more proactive with pay, but they don't possess a superpower that makes them better at the process. The biggest takeaway women could learn from men is to negotiate, period. In fact, both sexes are prone to stumble once they enter the throes of haggling. Here are some tips for men and especially working women on how to negotiate pay.
Get your timing right. Ladies, come out the gate and into the job market with a mindset to receive the best possible starting salary on your first job. Sallie Krawcheck, owner of 85 Broads, a women's network that provides advice, connections and business opportunities, says your failure to do so could ripple. "Men do tend to negotiate from the get-go," she explains. "When you add in the compound effect of women not negotiating as often in their careers as men do, it ends up being thousands upon thousands of dollars over the course of a career."
A few additional notes on timing: During a job search, it's protocol for salary negotiation to begin when a formal offer is extended, so don't start bargaining before it's appropriate. If you're asking for a raise or bonus, then consider your manager's schedule and approach him or her on one of his or her lighter days. Speak with him or her before Thursday, since focus and priorities shift closer to the weekend. And if it's a tough financial time, then hold off altogether until your department is solvent.
Know your worth. Visit the salary data websites like JobSearchIntelligence.com, as well as salary calculators like PayScale.com to determine the right compensation for your position, experience and location.
The kicker is to resist lowballing yourself once you know the appropriate pay range. Babcock's 2003 study also found that women who attempted to negotiate salary requested 30 percent less money than men. In 2010, Emily Amanatullah co-authored a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that concluded women who negotiated their own salary asked for an average of $7,000 less than men. During her study, Amanatullah, an assistant professor of management at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, also found that women who negotiated on behalf of someone else asked for just as much money as men. Women who advocate their own pay bumps "anticipate that assertiveness will evoke incongruity evaluations, negative attributions and subsequent 'backlash,'" according to Amanatullah's study. They're feelings that women who go to bat for others don't report experiencing.
Enter this process with the right frame of mind. In Krawcheck's experience, men and women approach salary proceedings differently. "The women I've talked to and worked with on negotiation tend to find it unpleasant," she says. "When you talk to men, they mention enjoying the joust and debate of it all." Working women's defeatist attitude could be why they ask for lower pay than men.
It's time to change your thinking. Come humble, but be confident, and remember it's not an imposition to request pay that's commensurate to your performance and experience. "I've had men who reported to me who would come to negotiate their bonuses and they were very direct," Krawcheck says. "But women would come to me very apologetic. 'Oh, I hate to bother you,' or 'Oh, I'm sorry, but could I ...'"
Even women who are new to the job market should have the confidence to negotiate if they're receiving a bargain basement offer, Krawcheck says. "Some people might think, 'Oh gosh, I can't negotiate because I don't have any standing yet.' But if the company didn't want you they wouldn't have offered you a job."
Think beyond green. Receiving more money at this time might be out of the question, but consider finagling for which local office you'd work out of, whether you could receive telecommuting privileges, for more vacation time or even for paid time off to volunteer. Krawcheck suggests a compromise on work projects. "Go to your hiring manager and say, 'I want to make sure in my first year that I'm able to accomplish the following things,'" she says. "No one ever thinks to negotiate their assignments, but this is really a win-win to negotiate. It'll benefit the company for you to have your focus set, and it will make you a well-rounded professional."
Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. This process is a dance. You don't want to step on your partner's toes, but don't stand so far away from him or her that you're not in sync. In other words, "you have to be careful about upsetting the person on the other side of a negotiation," Krawcheck says. "There's an art to figuring out whether or not you're going to push a person too far when negotiating. In my experience, women stay too far clear of that line, and men push up too close to the line. Neither is right." Watch for interpersonal cues and body language to determine whether the hiring manager or boss is engaged or turned off.
Be honest. Instead of seeing your hiring manager or boss as your adversary, think of him or her as your ally. Forgo your poker face and try honesty instead. Krawcheck explains how she recently used this tactic for negotiation and had it work in her favor. "I explained what was most important to me," she says. "I revealed my vulnerable underbelly and what I really needed to receive in the process to feel like I'd won the war. What ended up happening is that the person I was negotiating with felt like we were problem-solving to achieve what we both wanted, as opposed to nickel and diming."
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