An amazing deal of interest is there since the recent reports on the gender gap, in particular around Bollywood, and the huge pay gap between male and female celebrities. I wasn’t keen on pushing the gender issue too strong until I stumbled upon a report published by WGEA.

I know that in each company most of the directorial and managerial positions are possessed by men, and this is something recruiters have been striving to balance from quite a long time. Even in my company, while searching for a new Business Development Manager, there wasn’t a single female in the last three shortlisted candidates.

gender pay gap

Women Can Negotiate. But They Don’t!

While researching on this traditional phenomenon, I walked up to my firm’s recruiters and managers to dig deeper into this concern. What strikes me about these private conversations and in the light of the gender pay gap is that there is the surprising absence of confidence, especially among young ladies who are incredible at what they do, and can possibly do much more, but simply don’t believe they’re good enough. As a result, most of them don’t negotiate while receiving an offer letter.

But Why Don’t They Negotiate?

In a study, half of the men negotiated their offers in contrast to one-eighth of the women. There is a strong reason for that, and it has nothing to do with their skills of negotiation or general confidence. Rather, it depends on how they are treated when they do. Women, most of them, feel nervous while negotiating because of their inkling. They feel self-advocating for demanding higher salary might bring a socially difficult position for them to deal with.

Is There Anything Women Can Do? Of Course!

For women, asking for self-promotion is often difficult and can cost likeability. There are studies showing that both(men and women) don’t like working with women who negotiate assertively compared to the men who do the same. So, what a woman can do to dodge being perceived as “nasty”, “demanding” or “pushy”? How can they change this crippled gender pay gap without waiting for the others to change?

Here are four ideas that can empower women to negotiate and be more competitive:

1. Use “I-We” Strategy

Ever heard of the name Sheryl Sandberg? She is currently the COO of Facebook. She used the “relational accounts” technique to land a job of her choice, and at her desired pay scale. Even researchers back up the fact that when females contextualize and frame their interests in “communal concern”, chances of getting what they want increases significantly.

The key to an “I-We” strategy is to show the employer why women’s bargaining is authentic in terms that exhibit their interest for management relationships. Sheryl Sandberg shares her experience of using this technique with Mark Zuckerberg in her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”. Her words to Mark Zuckerberg were, “Of course you realize that you’re hiring me to run your deal teams, so you want me to be a good negotiator. This is the only time you and I will ever be on opposite sides of the table.” If women can tweak this into a negotiation “relational account” statement for themselves, it would be like, “I really hope you’ll consider my negotiating skills as something valuable I can bring to the desk”. Doing so not only enhances women’s negotiation outcomes but also improves their social perception.

2. Don’t Get Flattered Or Fall For Basic Tricks

This technique is used by many recruiters, especially on women. It sounds something like this: “You’re such a wonderful candidate that I went ahead with all the details by myself to get you the best we can afford.” Women get overwhelmed and the rest is registered in the facts. Sometimes, it sounds less positive, like this: “We offer the fixed amount for the entry-level position” or “I have talked to decision-makers and this is the maximum they can extend”.

Most of the women fall for what recruiters say at face value, which actually is a part of the game – to get them the lowest. Because women are good at following rules, demanding something out of the rulebook seems illegitimate to them. However, they have to learn that corporate world isn’t school. It’s where they need to break the perceived rules in order to succeed. Even if a recruiter is adamant on the salary, try negotiating on other things such as vacations, benefits or bonuses. Just don’t take a “no” as the last word!

3. Do The Homework And Know The Worth In The Market

To know your market value is to safeguard yourself from prejudiced anchors.

Before stepping into the premises of the would-be employer, women should find out how much people(men) are getting for the same post. A simple way to do so is by going online(read Glassdoor) or by asking close friends. Knowing about what others are getting for the same position can provide leverage to them with a relevant bargaining range.

Important: Don’t talk to women about it because as confidants, they are most likely to skew the information.

4. Getting In The Shoes Of An Agent

Women nurture others quite well but they should fight to advance their interests too

It has been found in the Researches that women do an incredible job when asked to negotiate on behalf of others. Not only they are comfortable while being assertive but also are confident and persuasive. Plus, they are less likely to be judged negatively. The truth of the matter is when a woman negotiates on her behalf, she finds it difficult to quantify her worth.

It’s better if women try acting as an agent for themselves, as they would for their friend, colleague or team, and they will surely find the consequences quite impressive.

Clearly, all of these approaches have their respective shortcomings. Asking women to negotiate on the basis of relational account and similar is to strengthen the gender form, which makes it so hard for them to bargain. However, waiting for an ideal solution until our broken system is fixed doesn’t seem like a good idea. They should simply be ambitious, use their strength, and most importantly, use their sweetness during negotiations. If men can nurture, then women can negotiate!

What’s your opinion?

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