According to the Monster Salary Index- 2019, women in India earn 19% lesser than men. The survey revealed that the median gross hourly salary for men in India in 2018 was Rs. 242.49, while Rs. 196.3 for women, meaning men earned Rs. 46.19 more than women. These statistics tend to worsen in Industries like IT services and Manufacturing, where the pay gap is 26% and 24% respectively. It is safe to say that this gap is going to take a while to bridge, but in the meanwhile, it is essential that every woman speak up for herself while negotiating her salary.
Here is a list of common mistakes most women make while negotiating their salaries, with some tips on how to fix these mistakes to ensure that you get your due.
Mistake 1: You believe that the first/starting salary is not negotiable
Linda Babcock, a professor of economics in Carnegie Mellon, found that just 12.5% of women negotiated for their starting salary versus 52% of men. Given that it is not common practice of asking job applicants to state their own salary requirements, coupled with the lower starting salary, ensures that there always is going to be a pay gap between women and men.
Remember ladies, the first salary or even the starting salary of a new career, is negotiable, make sure you are getting what you are worth by doing some research on the company, and finding out what your peers stand to earn and speak for yourselves in that negotiation.
Mistake 2: You settle for the first offer on the table
By nature, women prefer to avoid the back and forth involved in salary negotiations and cave in. Author Lee E. Miller says his experience has shown that women ‘simply accept the first offer’. This is problematic at the very least, women need to fight for what they deserve, ‘effective negotiating’ is not something we are born with, it is a skill to be developed. The next time you receive an offer and you feel the first offer was too low, make sure you counter with a figure beyond your expectation, and watch how the negotiations begin.
Mistake 3: You wait for the “right time” to have a salary discussion
Now that you have the job you wanted, you feel grateful (as you should), you wait it out for the right moment to bring it up with your boss. Well, we’re sorry, but there is no ‘good time’ to have this discussion. Companies are in the business of making sure they have a higher profit every year, so they will not make any time, feel like the ‘right time’ to ask for a raise.
You need to ask yourself these questions: Was I promised a raise? Has my job profile changed since joining? Do I have more work than what I initially discussed? Has it been 6 months to a year since I joined?
If the answer is yes to even one of the above questions, it is the right time to speak your boss or HR and ask them for a raise.
Mistake 4: You cannot stand the occasional awkward silence
In the middle of a negotiation, when you are offered something below your expectations, or when you ask for something – there is an awkward, almost eerie silence. In sales, the awkward silence is something that people are constantly trained in. Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations says that one of the most important tactics to an effective negotiation is learning to become comfortable with the occasional bouts of awkward silence.
To fix this problem, here is a little life hack, when there is an awkward silence, begin planning what you want to say next, or try to make a little game of chess out of it, and start predicting all the things your employer could say next. If you occupy your mind during this silence, and do not think about the silence itself, you will say nothing that may cause you to lose the negotiating power.
Mistake 5: You share TMI with the person negotiating with you
Giving out information like your last earned salary, to personal information like ‘I really need this job because of ‘x’ reason’ will put the power of negotiation in the other person’s hand. Just like poker, you always keep your hand close to your chest.
To fix this problem is easy, remember that if you are applying for a job or asking for a raise, apart from initiating the conversation, most of the questions will come from the other person, listen carefully to the question, and ONLY answer what is asked of you.
Mistake 6: Once you hear the number you wanted to hear, you forget about perks and benefits
Salary is not just about cash in hand, remember that there are a lot of perks and benefits that companies offer to reduce their taxes, such as relocation bonus, extra vacation days or stock option. Many times, women hear a number they are pleased with, and end the discussion.
To fix this mistake, keep in mind that every salary package can be tailored to suit an individual. When you apply for a job, it is best to know from people who are currently employed in the company, or by people who just left, whether there are perks that you should know about, before going in for a negotiation.
Mistake 7: You are afraid to say ‘No’
Maintaining relationships is essential to women and because of this, we are more hesitant to say no. But being able to say no is critical when negotiating compensation. A ‘no’ does not make you less of a “Team Player”, nor does it have to be nasty or aggressive and a ‘no’ does not need to be an extreme situation of getting fired or quitting. It could simply mean a difference of opinion. And ladies, you are entitled to an opinion about your own compensation.
To fix this mistake, if an offer is less than you think it should be, you need to point that out politely but firmly and ask if the employer can improve the offer. More often than not, the employer will ask for some time and get back to you with an improved offer, or at least an explanation why they cannot improve on the offer.
Although according to the World Economic Forum, we are still 99 years away from bridging the pay disparity for women in the workplace. We hope that you could identify all the areas you might have fallen short while negotiating your salary in the past, and now you can take steps to correct the same.
(Edited by Neha Baid)