Here it is 2011, and equality has yet to be fully achieved. Though women make up half of the workforce, they continue to earn far less than their male counterparts. Specifically, African American women earned about 62 cents for every dollar white men made in 2009, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. And many would argue that part of the problem lies at the negotiating table. According to studies, women are less likely than men to negotiate for high salaries or raises.
It’s time to level the playing field. BlackEnterprise.com talked with Keith Wyche, career coach, Cub Foods president and author of Good is Not Enough, about doing just that, taking a page from men’s negotiation books to get the compensation you deserve in the workplace.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. “In my experience, men don’t think twice about asking for what they want,” Wyche says. And neither should you. Strategically make your request with confidence, whether you’re negotiating your salary at the point of hire or want a raise for being a top performer.
Don’t let the idea of the ‘good ‘ole boys’ club intimidate you. Be a thought leader and a top performer so that you’ve earned the right to get what you want and ask for what you’re worth. Build relationships, network and market yourself. Focus on what you bring to the table, not gender. “A male coworker may be more assertive or comfortable in asking for a raise, but if he’s not a top performer, his chances are not high for getting that raise,” Wyche says.
Remember, it’s about bottom line; not emotions. “Don’t go in talking about what other people make, because at the end of the day, people negotiate for themselves,” Wyche says. Because negotiating can get heated and tough, come prepared with documentation of what you bring to the table, whether you just closed a big deal, added to company profits or successfully pulled off a big project. Be professional and smart, and learn the nuance of getting what you want without taking things personally.
Look for other ways to supplement your full compensation package. Don’t limit yourself to just the base salary, Wyche says. Think about the whole package, including stock options, bonuses and other incentives. “If they can’t increase the salary offering or give you a raise, don’t be afraid to ask for more vacation time or other incentives.”
Don’t just give up after the first no. Be persistent in getting what you feel you deserve. If the economic outlook of the company does not allow for a raise, wait for better timing and continue doing excellent work, while also documenting your achievements and the measurable benefits your talent brings to the company.
For more on career advancement in the workplace: