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Negotiate your worth

At Altris we are all about sharing useful information to save you time trawling through the many pieces of information that come into your inbox everyday.  I came across an interesting article on Women’s Agenda, written by Gillian Franklin, Director of The Heat Group, which shares the results of a recent Heat Group Poll, looking at the gender pay gap and negotiating skills (or lack of) of women.

The national survey of more than 750 women was conducted in June 2013. The results show an outcome that I regularly see working with professional women returning to the workforce after having children; They use flexibility in a role as a negotiator, rather than negotiate their worth as well as flexible working.

The poll found that one in four respondents stated they would accept lower pay for a role that offered flexibility in terms of hours worked. Of these women, 92% said they would take up to a 10% pay cut to achieve this. Franklin raises a valid point; “if someone has to work longer hours than typical to complete the same job as someone else, should they get paid more? No. So, why would someone get paid less if they do it faster or differently?” After working with highly capable professional women, supporting them back to the workforce over the past 9 years, I often see and hear of women who accept what is first offered in terms of salary packages, whereas in almost every case, a salary package offered to a male is pushed back and then negotiated.

I regularly hear of women who are “grateful” for jobs when they offer flexibility because the focus is on hours not outputs.  I believe, women and organisations need to get smarter with the way they work and reward effort and output. What gets measured gets done and if someone can get their work done in less hours (or different hours) then why not encourage this way of working. To me it’s a simple win/win solution.

The study found that 55% of women believe their poor negotiating skills contributed to their lower pay.  Franklin shares some tips for a new role or performance review, which helps women negotiate with control:

  1. Check what the position offers in the industry and in the company (it is surprising how easy this is to do). Example, look on Seek for similar roles in similar size companies. It is important to check the size of the company as this can play a large part in determining the salary being offered.
  2. Prepare a list of what you have to offer and why you are the best person for the role. Focus on what you will achieve – and not the way you need to structure your hours to deliver this.
  3. Ask the difficult questions – how does this package compare with other people in the company in similar roles? Would my package be disadvantaged in any way because I require flexibility?
  4. Set an expectation of next reviews. What sort of increase can I expect if I deliver against my KPI’s? Is this the company standard?
  5. Role-play with someone so you have been through the negotiation process a few times before you need to do it with your manager. Ask your support person to be tough and challenge you with some difficult questions so you are prepared.
  6. Stick to your core deliverables. Be confident and focus on the fact that you will get the job done – not how you will get it done.

The reality is, there is a gender pay gap and lack of flexible working practices in New Zealand and now it is up to women to start backing themselves and challenging the status quo. Women need to stop being apologetic about their flexibility choices and focus on the value they bring to the role and the organisation.

If you don’t believe that you’re worth it, who will?


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