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Nego”she”ation… the art to the ask

The focus on sexual harassment seems to be at an all-time high largely due to the celebrity status of fallen heroes and an industry where the words “casting couch” were literal in many instances. I agree with Oprah at her riveting speech at the Golden Globes, that we all look forward to a day where people don’t have to say #metoo! As a corollary to sexual harassment, pay equalization and gender parity are trickling into focus globally.

So, as a woman directly affected by any, or all, of these issues, what are you doing about them? I know many who are comfortable, happy to sit on the sidelines hoping others will lead the charge while they look forward to reaping the benefits. This is particularly true in terms of pay equalization, non-participants with heads buried in the sand putting full blame on institutional sexism. As we focus on pay disparity, is there a possibility that we may as a gender have some blame in the matter?

By and large, you don’t ask, you don’t get. Although the statistics vary a bit, it turns out that when women receive an offer, only about 30% of women attempt to negotiate the agreement while 46% of men do. Basically, two out of three women do not ask for anything in the process which equates to millions of dollars in lost revenue over a lifetime for women who did not at least try.

It’s always been easier for us, as women, to negotiate on behalf of others rather than ourselves. Whether that included the needs of our families or an organization that we work for. And we do a darn good job at it, we are used to being in a caretaking role, interested in the welfare of the community. So why is it so hard to ask for more for ourselves?

I confess, I’m continually shocked when candidates accept an offer without trying to determine if it is a fair offer or asking for one additional item to sweeten the pot. They would not purchase a car without researching and negotiating the best price. Yet, when it comes to their own price, they cave. Are we still in an age where women do not want to appear greedy or desperate and think they might be punished for asking? I look at the strong, powerful women around me, from Boomers to Millennials and I question that lack of self-preservation. I’m praying that the tide is turning, especially with the spotlight on inclusion showing up in the media and new legislation.

Have you considered the impression you might give to potential employers if you don’t take the initiative? I have been told by some employers that the failure of candidates to negotiate as an advocate for themselves is a clear indication to them that it is likely that they won’t watch out for the company’s best interests either. This includes company budgets, contract terms or employee welfare programs. Further, this type of apathy shows a lack of creativity, spunk and leadership skills. I don’t know about you, but that is not the kind of employee that I want to hire.

Like everything else, there is an art to the ask, a right time, necessary research and preparation. And, the requirement of a thick skin if the ask is rejected, the ability not to take it personally. The “No” may be a question of budget, that you lack the proper skillset, that your request is an out of market request or simply that you need more time to perfect your argument. But, in terms of your personal growth and leading the way for other women, your efforts will form a benchmark for others. Just remember that it is mind over matter and consider the impact of your negotiations to your ecosystem and why it is critical that you negotiate the absolute best deal.

In an effort to lend you a hand, I have prepared a “Nego”she”ation Checklist”. In it, I have provided resources to help you evaluate your financial worth, items you should consider in the process, ways to show up during negotiations, and sources to determine whether the company that is making the offer has the same values as you.

Remember that negotiations needn’t be adversarial, and no one has to get aggressive. The objective is a win-win outcome where the company retains amazing talent and the employee is paid appropriately for their skills and experience. But, the most significant goal is that your emotional quotient is as important as your paycheck. This takes an actual conversation about worth and the things that are important to both to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Finally, do consider that if women and men negotiated in similar proportions, pay scales might be equalized sooner rather than later. Isn’t it time to take one for the team?

Copyright © 2018

All rights reserved Linda L.Lattimore

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