Women must learn to negotiate

In Australia, women earn on average 84 cents for every dollar earned by men.  This figure has remained unchanged for the entire decade.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that the average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adult women was less than for men in all industries. The largest difference between the earnings of full-time adult males and females occurred in the finance and insurance industry, with female earnings approximately two-thirds of male earnings (66 per cent). The difference in earnings was smallest in government administration and defence (the average earnings of full-time adult females were 91 per cent of full-time adult males).

So, it seems that negotiating pay packages is something that women, regardless of level, fail to do as successfully as men.

One way to overcome this is to approach the task armed with the relevant research.  Know all the statistics about pay scales in your industry by skill or functional level.  Most importantly, find out all the possible components of the package that you might be offered.  My experience is that women do not understand what they might ask for during a pay negotiation.  It is important to use your research information to argue logically for a greater pay increase.

A female friend of mine worked in a large multi-national organisation that was undergoing restructuring due to an economic downturn (yes, it’s happened before!).  The CEO of the organisation had addressed all the senior executives and explained this situation and that salary increases would be small for the next year.

All the participants agreed to this approach while they were in the meeting.  However, the women later found out that all of the men had negotiated a salary increase equal to that of the previous year, while they had accepted the lower level of increase.

If you are taking a new job, remember, you get one chance to negotiate your starting package.  All other salary reviews will commence from there – so it is worthwhile getting it right.

This process is also applicable to people who work part-time, on contract or on a casual basis.  Often people, particularly women who work part-time, are unjustly perceived to be less serious about their careers.  Unfortunately, many organisations still maintain the thinking that performance is to be measured in ‘face hours’, rather than in terms of outcomes and outputs.  Don’t let that stop you getting what you’re worth!

In my book, SelfScape: Success through balance, I provide many tips and techniques for determining your personal value proposition and then getting what you’re worth.


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