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Pay negotiation tips that every woman ought to know

Pay negotiation can be tricky but it’s nonetheless important to get right. In this article we ask two career experts how it should be
April 9, 2019

There’s a view among career experts that many women undervalue their worth in pay negotiations, but those who don’t are probably worth their weight in gold.

Natalie Goldman, CEO of employment platform Flexcareers, says that women often lack the confidence to ask for more pay because they don’t think the value they bring is good enough.

“The truth is in the world of work and the world that we live in, money is the ultimate value and women just haven’t been educated enough to grasp that and put their sense of self worth up there,” says Goldman.

“Historically and even systemically women have been told that they are not equal to men in a lot of ways, whether that is through statements like, “don’t be such a girl,” from a very young age we’re told that we’re not good enough.”

According to the Australian Taxation Office’s annual tax statistics for the 2016-17 financial year, women earn more than men in only 72 out of 1100 occupations.

A recent survey of more than 5,000 Australians found that only 17 per cent of women asked for a pay rise in 2018 compared to 23 per cent of men, according to human resources company The Adecco Group.While 45 per cent of the women surveyed said they were happy with their salary, 55 per cent were not and 20 per cent of them said they were looking for a new job that could pay them more.

But a pay rise today isn’t as easy to come by.

The latest SEEK Employment Report showed a decline in job advertising of 3.6 per cent compared to February 2018. But the average advertised salary across Australia rose 3.2 per cent year on year.

Outside of the highest-paying mining sector, female-dominated industries such as healthcare and medical, education and training and community services recorded the most growth in advertised salaries.

Goldman says women are often so grateful to have work, and offers of flexible working, that they often don’t demand better pay.

“I often see women who return to work from parental leave, and they go from working full-time to part-time, and they are expected to do the same job but for much less money,” she adds.

“That happens all the time, it happened to me. Women need to say ‘no, either redefine my role or pay me as if it is full-time because I am still achieving the same goals’, but most women don’t. I don’t think women ask enough.”

The forces that often hold women back from asking their employer for more work and pay are complicated and they appear to be worse than they were a decade ago, according to the latest Financy Women’s Index.

The female underemployment rate as measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, was 10.5 per cent in January this year, compared to 8.8 per cent in January 2009.

The rate measures those people working less than 35 hours a week who are available to and want to work more hours.

Jo Burston, founder and managing director of Job Capital, says that to get a pay rise you must present a business case that clearly articulates your employee value proposition and contribution to the company.

“Just because it’s review time doesn’t mean it’s raise time,” says Burston. “Approach the review through the eyes of your employer. What are they looking for in your performance and results to warrant more investment in you?”

Work out how to show the business your commitment to the future. “Do you know how you want to personally progress in the next 12-24 months? Are you a part of this progress and contributing?

“And be sure to highlight any educational up-skilling you have embarked on outside of your employment. Demonstrate this. Your self-investment indicates motivation, ambition and a desire to learn,” Burston adds.

The Adecco Group survey also found that both men and women indicated they were more likely to ask for a pay rise in 2019 than last year.

If it’s on your agenda, here are some tips to help you get there.

  1. Do your research. Understand what your job type is paying within your organization and others.
  2. Present a clear business case for your pay rise. Identify what value you are bringing to the business and how it is helping the profitability of your employer.
  3. Aim high in your pay negotiations. Suggest 10-20 per cent higher than you want, allowing room to come back.
  4. Keep emotion out, this is strictly about your business-linked performance.
  5. Understand that flexible work should not be linked to your financial compensation, because that is a way of working and not a benefit.

This Financy article was first published by the Australian Financial Review and has been republished here with permission.

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April 9, 2019
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