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Are women less confident than men when negotiating? 5 tips to become better negotiators.

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

A male colleague and I were being headhunted for new roles around the same time by different companies. We're about the same age, at the same managerial level in different departments and have similar qualifications. We often discuss new ideas with each other as our perspectives are seldom similar, which makes for frequent long-drawn-out debates and discussions. Navigating the ‘discussion’ phase of the headhunting process was no different.

He called after the first formal interview, I asked how it went, swinging my chair away from my desk in my home office and looking out my window, anticipating a long and detailed response which would require my devote attention. It was good, he said. Well, you need to expound, I need details, I responded. When female colleagues and I discuss interviews, we go into granular detail about all the questions asked, the panel, their reactions, what we could have answered better etc. Clearly, men just let you know; it was good.

What he was most interested in was the compensation package, and by the compensation package, the money to be exact. He calmly stated, I asked for, to put it in relatable terms, a 216% increase on what he is currently earning. While I collected my jaw from the floor and hollered are you insane, he simply said quite the opposite. If I get the job, I most certainly will be made the highest offer.

Here's the thing, studies have repeatedly shown men consistently negotiate higher salaries than women, even with less experience and qualifications, so after that conversation, I asked myself, would I ever be comfortable to articulate a 216% salary increase to ensure I was paid at the top of the scale. Why are men so confident that they deserve the best pay? Why are women who are more qualified afraid to negotiate to be at the top or even outside the pay scale? How can we work on our negotiation skills and ensure we are being paid top dollar for the skills and expertise we bring to the table?

For starters, I re-read, Chris Voss’ book on negotiating. Never split the difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it.

A great read on negotiating at varying levels. With this second read, I realized all the techniques described will fail if you do not have the confidence to execute.

So how can women negotiate better pay, here are 5 tips to improve your negotiation skills:

1. Keep a brag list. Women are less likely to list their accomplishments and the impact it has on the organisation. They do great work and move on to the next project without highlighting what they just accomplished. In order to get compensated well for your skill set, you must be able to articulate your accomplishments qualitatively and quantitatively. Maintain a list of all the things you have successfully worked on, the skills you employed and highlight the results that were achieved because of your effort and knowledge.

2. Do your research and be prepared. A large part of confidence is preparation. Before the negotiation, have a clear idea of what you want to be paid net of tax- this is so important as tax is approximately 20-30% of our gross income. Ask mentors and colleagues in similar industries what is the pay range for similar jobs at different companies. Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed are also helpful resources to know the pay range of organisations.

3. Do not be intimated, anticipate a counteroffer. Many women are discouraged if their offer is not accepted and shy away from putting in a counteroffer. Don’t be, list the things which are important to you. The base salary may be capped but what about additional vacation days, education grants, therapy sessions, gym membership. This is the time to ask for other benefits which contribute to your overall well-being in lieu of a higher salary.

4. Provide a range and not a single figure. When negotiating your salary, it is best practice to give a range rather than a fixed number. When providing your range, ensure the amount that you really want is the base. Also, just as important, give specific numbers for your range, it gives a sense that you thought long and hard about the numbers and they are personal. For instance, if you want an annual salary of $52,000.00 per annum you should state your range as, 52,683.19 to 61,722.49 per annum. Yes, down to the cent!

5. Speak with Confidence like no is not an option. When I was a child, my aunt always said to me never be afraid to ask for anything, you already have the no, but asking will give you a 50% chance of having a yes. So, do not ask timidly, you already have the no, be confident with a firm voice and articulate clearly what you want. There is absolutely nothing to lose.

I would love to hear your thoughts on negotiating Salaries and if you think men negotiate better than women. If so, what can we do to improve our negotiation skills?


RoxC. W

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