Negotiating for Career Advancement: Key Skills and Strategies for Women in the Workplace
Welcome to the world of work, where the coffee is hot, the deadlines are tight, and the gender pay gap is alive and well.
Unfortunately, you read that right. Despite all the progress we’ve made as a society, the gender pay gap in the UK still stands at 17.3%.
But fear not, ambitious ladies! It’s time to don your negotiation hats and take charge.
In this article, we’ll cover some key skills and strategies for negotiating your way to the top, with a dash of humour to keep things light. Because let’s face it, sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying. 🥲
Some of The Problems Women (still) Face in the Workplace
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s important to recognize the unique challenges that women face in the workplace. Despite progress in recent years, many women still face barriers to career advancement, including:
Gender bias and discrimination
- Women are more likely than men to experience discrimination at work, with 42% of women reporting that they have faced gender discrimination, compared to 22% of men.
Lack of female role models and mentors
- Only 56% of women say they have a mentor, compared to 63% of men, and just 44% of women say they have a senior leader advocating for their career advancement, compared to 56% of men.
Unequal pay and compensation
- 17.3% pay gap in the UK. Say no more.
Stereotypes and assumptions about women’s skills and abilities
- A study by the Harvard Business Review found that women are more likely than men to be seen as “nurturing” and “supportive” rather than “strategic” or “decisive.” This can lead to women being overlooked for leadership roles and opportunities for career advancement.
These challenges can make it difficult for young female professionals to achieve their career goals. They’re worth highlighting.
But this article isn’t about the problems. Oh no.
This is about solutions and for women in the workplace, and the skills and strategies can be used to negotiate for career advancement and overcome these barriers.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the key skills and strategies that women can use to achieve their goals. Go get ’em.
1) Know Your Worth
Before you enter into any negotiation for career advancement, it’s important to know your worth and the value you bring to the organization. This means:
- Researching industry standards for pay and benefits
- Documenting your accomplishments and contributions to the company
- Practising how to communicate your value and worth effectively.
Wielding this knowledge, you can confidently head into your next review and hit them with; “I researched the average pay for my role in our industry and found that I’m being paid less than the average. I’ve also documented my recent accomplishments, including securing two major client contracts and leading a successful project team. Based on these factors, I believe I deserve a raise of 10%.”
2) Build Relationships and Allies
Building strong relationships with colleagues, mentors, and other professionals in your industry can help you gain support and allies as you negotiate for career advancement. This means:
- Seeking out mentors and sponsors who can provide guidance and support
- Developing a strong professional network
- Building relationships with decision-makers and influencers in your organization
Easier said than done, but there are several ways to put this advice into practice.
1) Take an interest in others:
- Building relationships requires a genuine interest in other people. Ask your colleagues about their interests, goals, and challenges. Show that you care about them as individuals, not just as co-workers
2) Collaborate on projects
- When you have the opportunity to work on a project with others, take the time to build relationships and find common ground. This can help you work more effectively together and build trust.
3) Attend company events
- Attend company events and social gatherings to build relationships with co-workers outside of work. This can help you get to know people on a personal level and build trust.
4) Listen and learn
- Actively listen to your co-workers and learn from their perspectives. This can help you build empathy and understanding, which can be valuable in building relationships and negotiating effectively.
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3) Be Confident and Assertive
Confidence and assertiveness are key skills for successful negotiation. This means:
- Speaking up for yourself and your goals
- Communicating your needs and wants clearly and directly
- Being prepared to make your case and stand your ground
Example: “I understand that the company has budget constraints, but I strongly believe that my skills and experience warrant a higher salary. I’m prepared to make the case for why I deserve this raise and I’m willing to negotiate to find a mutually agreeable solution.”
4) Be Flexible and Creative
Negotiation for career advancement is about finding a solution that works for both parties. This means:
- Being open to alternative solutions and compromises
- Thinking creatively about how to meet your goals
- Identifying common interests and areas of agreement
Example: “I understand that the company may not be able to offer me a higher salary at this time, but I’m willing to explore other options such as additional vacation time or flexible working arrangements that would help me achieve a better work-life balance.”
5) Choose the right time
Timing is crucial when it comes to negotiation.
Choosing the right time to negotiate can significantly impact the outcome. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Be mindful of your timing
- Try to negotiate when your employer is more likely to be receptive to your requests, such as during performance evaluations or after achieving a significant accomplishment. And hey, if you know they are particularly relaxed after that 11 am coffee break, so much the better…
Consider the company’s financial situation
- Negotiating during times of financial hardship or restructuring may not be the best approach. Wait until the company is in a more stable position to have a more successful negotiation.
- Plan your negotiation in advance and consider all possible scenarios. It’s also important to be open to alternatives and compromises.
Here’s an example of how to apply this strategy: “I understand that this may not be the best time to negotiate a salary increase given the company’s current financial situation. However, I would like to discuss opportunities for growth and development within the organization.”
Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash
6) Practice, Practice, Practice
Negotiation is a skill that takes practice to master. Going in without feeling confident about your skill could end in disaster.
But finding opportunities to practice isn’t obvious – you can only go so far negotiating the train fare before you’re kicked off. Literally.
Some opportunities to practice your negotiation skills could be
- Role-playing negotiation scenarios with a friend or mentor: This can be done in a safe environment, where you can receive feedback on your negotiation style and techniques.
- Attending negotiation workshops or seminars: This provides a structured way to learn and practice negotiation skills with guidance from experienced negotiators.
- Participating in group projects or discussions: This provides opportunities to practice negotiation skills within a team environment, which can help improve collaboration and build consensus.
- Negotiating in everyday situations: Negotiation skills can also be honed in everyday life, such as negotiating the terms of a contract or price for a product or service.
(P.s. A helpful book on this topic, and a thoroughly enjoyable read, is Chris Voss’ Never Split The Difference 📖)
Negotiating for career advancement can be challenging, especially for women who face unique barriers and biases.
However, by knowing your worth, building strong relationships, being confident and assertive, being flexible and creative, and practising your negotiation skills, you can successfully negotiate for better pay, promotions, and other career opportunities.
Remember, you have the skills and abilities to achieve your career goals and advance your career.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Photo by SKYLAKE STUDIO on Unsplash
A workplace can only work at its best when everyone is represented and can contribute equally. Our Female Professional Development and Leadership programme is designed to support women and fast-track in their rise to the top.
Our female career mentors have been there themselves and support you on your career trajectory, including negotiating for career advancement, helping you to build a successful and happy career. If you’re feeling like something is holding you back, why not get in touch for a free initial consultation?