The Art of Salary Negotiation: What Women Need to Know

By Kristen Blessman, CEO of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce

There is a high cost of not knowing the fine art of negotiation – this is especially true for women. Not possessing negotiation skills can make it tough to navigate the workplace and compromise our pay; setting ourselves up for years of make-up time and energy to get to where we should be.

We know this to be true: women make less money than men across the board (and the numbers are even more dire for women of color).

In 2019, according to a gender pay gap study by payscale.com, women earn 79 cents to every dollar earned by men and women of color earn 74 cents to every dollar a white man earns. The same study identifies multiple factors that contribute to this gender pay gap, including inequalities in opportunities, the weight of a degree, and perceptions about pay by both employer and employee.

All of these factors complicate things when it comes to salary negotiation.
According to a 2017 study by Jobvite, a recruiting software company, only 29% of job seekers negotiated for a higher salary.

Additionally, women are faced with unique circumstances when it comes to negotiation. Everything from second-guessing their value, feeling uncomfortable with asking, and a common belief that women happily advocate for others and are comfortable with tough negotiations on behalf of the company – but play a different tune when advocating for oneself.

Why DON’T women negotiate more?
Actually, they do.
Contrary to common perceptions, this loss of salary over time isn’t just because of a lack of negotiation at the beginning, more recent studies show that women are asking – they are just not getting it.
Even if a woman is successful in choosing to negotiate, deep-rooted biases still hold them back. A recent Harvard Business Review study actually determined that women who asked were successful 15% of the time, while men were 20% of the time.

Why you should negotiate.
One example, described by Stanford professor and master negotiator Margaret A. Neale, shows us that there are long-term consequences for not taking any action at all.
Think about an offer of $100,000. If you accept the offer and another colleague negotiates for $107,000, that doesn’t seem like much – and some might think it not worth it to “risk one’s reputation over.” But that $7,000 is compounded, so in this analysis, you would have to work an additional eight more years to be as wealthy as your counterpart in retirement.

Learn how.
If you made it to the end of this article, it’s because this is important to you. (of course it is!)
At the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, part of what we do is to equip women with the tools needed to buck trends and find success. This is especially important to young women in the early stages of their careers.

To that end, our Young Professionals Board of Directors is hosting a salary negotiation workshop on March 11, 4:30-6:30 at the Tabor Center. I hope to see you there!

Can’t make it? Don’t miss out on future events put on by our stellar YP Board and check out what else is in store, by visiting the Colorado Women’s Chamber events calendar.

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