March 24 is National Equal Pay Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the gender pay gap. The date has special significance in the U.S. as it represents how far into the year the average woman must work in order to earn what the average man made within the previous year.
According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the average women working full time, year-round is paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men.
The NWLC says that a gender wage gap exists in 94% of occupations.
The World Economic Forum has predicted that it will take more than 250 years to close the current economic gender gap. But there are steps that can be taken to help speed up that trajectory.
Claire Wasserman, author and founder of Ladies Get Paid — a global community that champions the professional and financial advancement of women — breaks down the eight steps women should take when negotiating their salaries.
Here are eight tips on how to negotiate your salary on Equal Pay Day from Claire Wasserman:
- Asking for a raise is NOT asking for a favor. It’s not charity. It’s an investment in yourself. Think of it this way: You’re a business (“LLC of me”) and you’re pitching investors on why they should fund your company. You demonstrate to them your amazing track record, some testimonials (i.e. positive feedback you’ve received), and ideas for the future. When they decide to invest in you, it’s not about doing you a favor. It’s because they believe that they will see a return on their investment; that you will be the one to deliver results.
- Talk to other people about how much they make. First, do your own research. Then, reach out to people who work at similar companies with similar roles. Tell them you’re concerned that we all may be underpricing ourselves if we don’t talk about money. Present your research and ask if you’re in the right ballpark of what to charge or ask for with your role. You could even ask if they’d be willing to tell you about how they negotiated. The more transparent we are, the more money we can all make.
- Prepare a comeback number. You may not be able to get the ideal number you want off the bat and that’s okay. If your employer can’t afford your ideal number, have a backup one. This would be something in the middle of the range (every salary is calculated on what’s called a “pay band”), and when/if they say no to the first number, you’ll have a second number to focus on.
- Don’t forget full compensation (“full comp”). There are things you can and should negotiate for besides money; things that bring you value and either don’t cost the company much, if anything. This includes more vacation days, signing bonus, higher commission, more equity, career development, and more. (If you’re curious how they can afford to send you to a conference but not give you a higher salary, it’s because these things can come from different budgets.)
- Know your impact. This might be the most important part of negotiating. You don’t get the money just because you asked, or because it’s “fair.” You get it because you’ve made a compelling case about how you’re a top performer who should receive top dollar. Find your original job description and then write a new one based on what you actually did. Your role has probably morphed or expanded, with a lot of life experience in between. Find a few wins and then really dig into how the work you did either helped make or save the company money. While you’re doing that, find ways you may have contributed to the company culture, including how your strengths positively impact the team dynamic.
- Anchor high. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to say your number! If you’ve done your research you should feel extremely confident. However, once you say what you want (which by the way, you’ll tell them comes from your research), you can absolutely follow it up with: “But I’d love to learn more about how you determine compensation and if this fits into what you were thinking.” This demonstrates that you know your value but you’re also open to a conversation. Also don’t forget, you’re on the same side. They want this to work!
- If they low-ball you, don’t stress. Simply respond with, “That’s a great starting point.” Follow it up with you know they value gender pay equity and you’re confident you can “figure it out together.” Then drop your comeback number. And be silent. The ball is in their court.
- Remember that when you do well, we all do well! We can feel powerless when it comes to the wage gap. But you’re not! Negotiating is a way to ensure that you’ve closed your own wage gap and when you succeed, share your success. Talk about your salary. Help another woman negotiate. We’re all in it together.
For more on how to effectively navigate the workforce as a woman, watch our full interview with Claire Wasserman HERE.