Negotiating techniques to tackle the gender pay gap

Rachel Massey, Director of Communications and negotiation expert at Huthwaite International, discusses how to negotiate a pay raise in the gender pay gap climate.

There are still no sectors in the UK economy where women are paid the same as men, with Government statistics showing that the median gender pay gap in the year 2018/2019 was 11.9%.

Five tips that can be used to close the gender pay gap and secure equal pay.

1.  Be prepared

Don’t get mad during a certain project and then barge into your boss’s office demanding more money. Arm yourself with information. In all negotiations, you need to be prepared with as much information as possible.

Have evidence of how your work has evolved, what new responsibilities you have undertaken and standout pieces of work you have delivered since your last pay review.

It’s important to have proof that other people in your role are being paid more, particularly if those counterparts are male. Online salary surveys can be useful but talk to friends, colleagues, and mentors about this information. This helps you to think about the value you bring in terms of your experience and proven performance.

Questions need to be asked about your employers – have other females tried to negotiate better salaries and what has the reaction been? Is the company experiencing growth or decline and how were you involved in that? What is the company policy on pay? Does the business have over 250 employees and will they be having to disclose information on their pay gaps? These are all the questions you need to ask yourself before entering the negotiation process.

2.  Give them time

Arrange the meeting in advance and make sure your manager knows what to expect. Managers tend not to like surprises, so don’t make them feel blindsided. They will automatically become defensive and negative, particularly if you start to accuse them of paying your colleagues more because of their gender.

When it comes to pay negotiations, putting them on the spot will only make for a stressful, tense situation, which makes a positive outcome less likely. Most likely, your manager will have to sell your case to their manager, so you need them on your side.

3. Be ready for negotiation

The biggest downfall for most people when asking for a pay raise is that they don’t expect any counter negotiation. In case one is presented, prepare yourself on what your boundaries are. How much scope for flexibility are you going to allow? What are you willing to accept or not accept?

You have the option to go back with a compromise and other suggestions. Think about a solution that could fit in well with your strategy. There may be different elements of your pay that could be interchangeable or traded-off. Identify what these could be so that you know what your options are.

Remember, your current employer is unlikely to pay you the same as a company looking to hire you. When you’re under contract, your employer will try to hold you at the lowest possible rate. This doesn’t mean that you can’t create a package that will work well, just be clear about what you want and why you deserve it.

4. Use the power of silence

Don’t be tempted into speaking or committing yourself to an offer too early. Human instinct is to fill those awkward silences with words, leading to rambling. This will result in you tripping yourself up and will put you automatically on the back foot.

The real value in these meetings comes from the response of employers. You have to appreciate the value of silence, making sure you listen fully to the replies you receive. This is not only crucial to securing a positive outcome but also puts you in good standing for future meetings.

5. Post-meeting

Each situation is different. The time it takes to consider an offer differs, depending on how close it is to what you want, and what other options may be open to you. Don’t accept an offer during the meeting, instead explain that you need to consider it.

Even if you think the offer is perfect, it is recommended that you give yourself at least a night to think it through. This helps you stay in control of the situation. The people negotiating with you need to know this is important. It’s absolutely fair for you to take your time in making a decision or thinking about what your next move will be.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s important to put what you’ve agreed in writing. This gives you a paper trail and also ensures that everybody is held accountable for the next steps. Even if you’re unsuccessful in securing a raise, your boss might tell you that it can be revisited in 3-6 months. In that case, that’s something you’d write in your follow-up email.

>See also: Why employers should care about the gender pay gap

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