Talking about money is never fun but it’s one of the most important conversations you’ll ever have.
Talking about salaries is an absolute minefield; whether it’s figuring out if the men in your office are earning more than you and your female colleagues, or trying to plan a holiday with friends who are all on totally different incomes, the conversation is one many like to put in the #TooHardBasket.
When it comes to negotiating a pay rise, many feel completely clueless about the etiquette surrounding the topic – and hey, we don’t blame you, it’s hard enough trying to figure out how to be good with money, let alone asking for more it.
The question of there being a right or wrong time to ask and navigating how to even start that conversation makes many wish beginners luck came into effect in this scenario, because how the heck do you even persuade your boss to say yes once you’ve figured out your pitch lines?
Young women in particular typically lack confidence when it comes to this kind of negotiation and unfortunately, the odds may even be stacked against us. Research published last year found that while men and women are equally likely to ask for a pay rise, women are less likely to be successful than their male peers. So just what is making it so difficult for us to get exactly what we’re worth in the workplace?
Psychologist and business coach Amanda Davies believes a lot of women’s issues with pay rise negotiations stem from early childhood conditioning. “I think it’s really complex, but as little girls we’re often told that you get what you’re given and it’s not polite to ask, so I think a lot of us have this mindset where it feels really uncomfortable to ask for anything and in particular money,” she says.
“There’s still this idea that we’re somehow going to be judged as too aggressive for asking, and that it’s not a good trait in a woman,” Amanda adds – but she firmly believes this mindset needs to change. “It’s not just a question of fairness and equality, but it’s also about recognising our worth and that we’re here to make a great contribution.”
A trick of the trade when asking for a pay rise is to remember that timing is really crucial. If your company is going through a restructure, or there’s a pay freeze and people being made redundant, it’s probably not a good time to ask for a pay rise. Instead, time your question in line with an annual review, if you’ve just come off the back of a great project, closed some sales, or done something great within your team.
Once you’ve found the right moment, Amanda’s advice is to be confident in justifying why you deserve the pay rise. “Go into that meeting prepared, with all your evidence written down in bullet points and give a copy to your manager. List what you’ve achieved and what you can contribute in future and make sure to do your market research to find out what people are being paid in similar roles,” she suggests.
Although discussing pay is still frowned upon in your workplace, if you can, chat with your colleagues or Human Resources, or alternatively, have a look at job sites and see what a comparable salary would be in another organisation. Knowing your value so you can passionately but objectively put your case across is a step in the right direction.
This kind of confidence is really the key to women getting what they want and deserve at work. If you can combine being passionate about your worth and demonstrating the facts and figures, that’s just going to scream confidence and that’s what works, says the expert.
Rehearsing beforehand can be a really great way to practise before you go into negotiations with your boss and make sure you know what the minimum offer is that you’re prepared to accept.
Don’t walk away without an answer – even if that answer is, “I need a week to see if it’s possible,” make sure to set a date to follow up. Hold your manager accountable and don’t let them off the hook.