Women are excellent negotiators in their personal lives, but when it comes to the workplace, they’re often uncomfortable or apprehensive about asking for what they deserve.
The Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency found that men on average earn 24% more than their female colleagues, equivalent to $27,000 a year. And as well as taking home a smaller pay packet, women are finding it harder to break through the glass ceiling into management roles. The 2015 survey found that only 15% per cent of CEO positions, and less than one third of senior management roles are held by women.
Anita Ziemer, Managing Director of the Slade Group, says women need to more clearly convey their business acumen, skills and potential when writing CVs and participating in performance reviews.
“I find that women often write a narrative about their career,” says Ziemer, “when what we need to see are their responsibilities and achievements. They should be a bit more numerate about it.”
Ziemer believes there’s truth in the saying that ‘you get what you negotiate, not what you deserve’. She says women must develop a greater appreciation of their value to a company, and become better at putting themselves forward for opportunities and promotions. Because when managers don’t know what you want, it’s hard for them to give it to you.
“A lot of women think, ‘If I’m really good, they’ll tap me on the shoulder’, and they don’t. You have to put your hand up and say, ‘I’m up for it’. And what’s the worst thing that can happen? They say no, and you stay where you are. But more than likely they will think, ‘Gee, she wants a move, I better look after her because I don’t want to lose her, and now I know what she wants, I can help her.”
Women in the workplace can learn to promote their strengths, harness their leadership skills, and advance their careers through improved negotiation. By knowing your intrinsic value to the business, you can enter negotiations on the front foot, leading the discussion and changing your employer’s expectations.
Strong negotiation skills come down to how well you listen. By listening carefully, you learn what might benefit the other party, and you can more easily reach a win-win outcome, where both parties are satisfied. This approach fosters mutual respect, and creates a conversation rather than a confrontation. When negotiations are one-sided, only one person wins.
Practice is essential. Think of your workplace negotiations in the same way as your negotiations at home. Honesty, authenticity and integrity go a long way. And once you complete a successful negotiation, this will give you the confidence to continue putting your case forward, and asking for what you want.
In order to redress the gender imbalance in Australian business, women need to excel in roles that will lead them to the top. There’s substantial evidence linking greater gender diversity to stronger organisational performance, so it’s in the best interests of both employers and employees to ensure women are treated equally and given the opportunity to succeed.
A 2013 Gallup study found that hiring a demographically diverse workforce improves an organisation’s financial performance. A workplace that appeals equally to both women and men provides employers with access to a wider pool of talent.
So next time you’re applying for a new job, or asking for a promotion at work, remember that both you and your enterprise will benefit from your rise to the top of your field.