According to some experts, the gap in pay between men and women exists in many professions that span from health care to finance to non-profits. While differences in age and education may account for some of the disparity, a new report from the job site Glassdoor finds pay negotiation to be another important driver of the wage gap.
Studies have shown that women are less likely to negotiate over salary than men. Yet when researchers explicitly told job seekers that pay was negotiable, the gender gap disappeared.
"To help close the gender pay gap, we should focus on creating policies and programs that provide women with more access to career development and training, such as pay negotiation skills, to support them throughout their lives in any job or field they choose to enter," said Dawn Lyon, vice president of corporate affairs at Glassdoor.
Even if you can't take a class on negotiation, you can get yourself ready for that big meeting with your boss by following a few key steps right now. First, get in the right mind set. Figure out what you want — and why you deserve it.
"The same kinds of behavior that work for most men, don't necessarily work for most women. There's an expectation that women won't negotiate for themselves," said Carol Frohlinger, president of Negotiating Women Inc., a New York-based advisory firm focused on advancing women in the workplace.
"Say to yourself, 'Here is really what is important to me,'" she said. "For most women [and men], it's not only about the money, but about being rewarded appropriately for the work that you have done. If you don't believe you deserve it, no one else will either."
Here are five simple do's and don'ts to follow when you sit down at the negotiating table:
Don't wait for your annual performance review. Be proactive. Plant seeds throughout the year by bringing up examples of your good work to your boss.
"Negotiating for compensation is akin to tax planning. You don't wait until Dec. 31 to put your strategies in place. Keep a journal of your accomplishments and update monthly," Frohlinger said.
That way, when it comes time to make your case, you remember all of the fabulous work that you've done. Include detailed information about revenues generated, costs saved and increased profits, if applicable. Also note any change in your responsibilities, such as managing a bigger team.
Do your research
Learn about the salary range for your position. Before you enter into a conversation about your starting salary or negotiating a raise, make sure you know exactly what others in your role, in your city, and if possible, even at your company, make. You can find out most of this by checking out the Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational handbook.
Go to popular job posting sites like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com. Join trade and industry associations and go to meetings to network and find out about the salary range in your field. Doing this research can help you assess what you should be making, based on what everyone else is reporting.
"If you uncover a gap between what you are making and what you believe you should be making, compile the data to build a strong argument about your own compensation," Lyon said.
Get others to brag for you. Let a co-worker tell your boss about how you snagged a big client or led a major project.
"Ideally people take an audit of their career — new skills learned, new projects or clients, measurable impact to the bottom line," said career and business expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine, founder of SixFigure Start. But you don't have to be the only one to bring that information to the attention of your boss.
Don't grab the first offer
When your employer comes back with suggested pay, many times the first number is not the best offer. So don't just accept it. Negotiate.
Make a strong case for yourself. Quantify your results and the benefits you've brought to the company. Cite specific reasons of how you've been outperforming compared to specific metrics and emphasize your experience.
"Don't just ask for more, but do so intelligently, with real numbers to support your argument," Lyon said. "Use your research to put together a case for more base salary or a signing bonus, because if you don't ask, you most definitely won't get it."
There's more to it than pay
Consider compensation beyond pay. You may want a higher salary, but also think about what would make your work-life better — perhaps you'd rather telecommute a day or two a week or have more vacation days.
You may want a more flexible schedule, training to improve skills, certain licenses or a new title. Negotiate for that too. "Try to make it less of risk for the employer to agree to it and think of what will be important to you not only today but in the future," Frohlinger said.
If you don't get what you ask for the first time, these are usually not one-and-done negotiations. Leave the door open. Raise the bar on your efforts to do the best job you can do, and start negotiating again in a few months.