Negotiating higher wages is a must for women to close the gender pay gap

It took Brittany Tilstra a few tries before successfully negotiating a raise with her first employer, Hello Fresh, but when she did, it was huge: $ 28,000.

“It was stressful,” said Tilstra, 29, who currently works as a growth marketer for the Sega Mini in Toronto. “I always wanted to be a tough and unapologetic woman, but it’s not my personality. However, I had invested a lot of capital in my previous company and I wanted to see it rewarded. I was anxious, but I also wanted that validation from my employer. “

Negotiating raises or promotions isn’t always easy for women, because of the way they are raised, says Kelly Keehn, a financial educator who emphasizes the importance of learning to negotiate in her latest book, “Rich Girl, Broke Girl.” published in Canada by Simon & Schuster.

“If a woman doesn’t negotiate her first salary and subsequent wages, she risks leaving $ 1 million on the table during her working life,” Keehn said. “But we are trained not to move the boat or go back; it is ingrained in us.

“This is changing for women, but it is still in our DNA and change takes time.”

She encourages women to practice negotiating for smaller bets, developing their negotiating muscles by asking for a better rate for their cell phone plan or a discount on a purchase, even if the sale technically ended yesterday. Keehn agrees that it can be scary to ask for more money, but even if your boss turns down your request, it is clear that you have an interest in growing.

“If someone says ‘no’ to a man, he does not lower his head; he says, ‘Good. When will it be a yes? Don’t take it as a personal rejection. It’s not about you; sometimes a yes is just not possible at the time. “

Alison Venditti, a Toronto HR trainer and HR professional who runs the Facebook group Moms at Work, is even more emphatic, citing Canada’s pay equity gap. The Canadian Human Rights Commission states: “The gender pay gap is a persistent problem: in 2020, a woman in Canada earned 89 cents for every dollar a man earned. That equates to an hourly wage difference of $ 3.52 (or 11 percent) between men and women.

“Women assume this is their fault and it is internalized,” said Venditti, who believes the real gap is closer to 15 percent. “For each new job, add 15 percent to your salary request.”

Negotiating can seem like a dead end situation because, “if we ask for a raise, we are too wicked; if we don’t, we are too tame. However, during COVID, when there are millions of jobs, now is the time to put your feet on the ground. Remember: By the time you’ve gone to three interviews and the attorney has worked out an agreement, the company won’t walk away if you ask for an additional $ 10,000. And once you are at the door, you are valuable; incorporation is expensive. “

She suggests that when women ask for a raise, they simply voice the request and don’t provide endless explanations.

“Women have a constant need to explain their worth and it turns into verbal diarrhea. They don’t have to be explained; I say, ‘Save that PowerPoint presentation. Go into the room, ask for the raise, and stop talking. It will make them nervous. “

From an HR perspective, Venditti knows that there is generally an authorized salary range, so there is nothing to fear. Tilstra agrees, noting that “if the pay band is narrowing, you have the flexibility to negotiate extras, such as moving expenses or benefits,” he said. “Those can also be added.”

Tilstra’s experience confirms the value of learning to negotiate. She was one of the first five employees hired by Hello Fresh, but did not push for a higher salary when she accepted the offer and regretted it shortly thereafter.

“I was making $ 35,000 and that’s not sustainable when you live in Toronto,” Tilstra said. “About three months later, I started pushing for a raise, but failed because I didn’t know how to have those conversations.”

Eventually he received some incremental raises, but nothing compared to his growth in experience and value to the company. He had several reporters to him and was a repository of corporate information in a company that had a constant turnover. So, she persisted in her search for adequate compensation.

Tilstra consulted with colleagues and colleagues to see what their salaries were; calculated the impact of your work in dollars; and learned about “what cards to hold close to my chest” during a negotiation seminar he attended. When the time came, she was ready and even had another job offer on the table as the last card to play.

“I was surprised that I was able to get it (the $ 28,000 raise), but when they came back with the offer, I realized I could have asked for more.”

As the oldest of four sisters, she believes that it is important to be a role model for others and to share the lessons she has learned.

“We talk a lot about work and money,” he said. “It is women helping women.”

Negotiation tips for women:

  • Don’t take your employer by surprise; prepare the ground for a salary discussion.
  • Keep a record of all your earnings; if you can tie them directly to income, even better.
  • Hold your manager accountable for promises to discuss money; put your requests in writing and then summarize the conversation in an email; it is a paper trail, that is, documentation.
  • Do market research and be realistic; See what others in comparable jobs are doing by checking with your colleagues, LinkedIn, or co-workers.
  • Practice negotiations and get advice on tactics from both men and women.
  • When you hit a brick wall, don’t be afraid to make a move; Switching companies offers another opportunity to ask for more money.

Sources: Kelley Keehn, Brittany Tilstra

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