Negotiating your salary can often be a tricky business, especially for women.
The gender pay gap shows hourly pay for full time employees is 8.3 per cent less for women than men in 2022 while new data from HMRC shows that, across all age groups, the median income was £28,700 for males, and just £23,600 for females – a 20 per cent difference.
Women also less likely to negotiate their pay than men.
In fact, just 41 per cent of women in the UK, are likely to negotiate their salary when moving roles compared with 61 per cent of men, according to research from Reed.co.uk.
Here are some top tips to help women negotiate their salary like a man on International Women’s Day.
- Never accept your first offer
Sectors where women dominate tend to pay less than those where men make up a larger proportion of the workforce – but this shouldn’t stop you asking for more funds. In fact, it makes it more important.
Experts say women, when negotiating, should not accept their first offer when they are being hired for a new job or offered a new role at their existing company.
Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell, said: “Too often women feel embarrassed to ask for more money or feel obliged to just accept what they are offered, but this is only exacerbating the gender pay gap with men earning more than women.
“The first rule is to never accept the first offer. Most employers will expect candidates to negotiate on salary, meaning they are unlikely to offer you their best rate first. Instead, you should push back and ask for more money, with proof of why you deserve it.”
She adds that too many people feel they will be rocking the boat if they ask for more, but very few employers will think less of you for asking.
2. Negotiate on benefits
Women can be disadvantaged when they become mothers with often poor maternity pay and inflexible working hours.
So if an employer is unwilling to budge on salary you could negotiate on other benefits, such as pension contributions, bonuses or paid holiday.
While this is not the same as boosting your income, it could still prove beneficial.
3. Still apply even if you don’t meet all the job specifications
Research shows that men apply for a job when they meet only 60 per cent of the qualifications while women only apply if they meet 100 per cent of them.
Change this and apply for a role even if you don’t meet all of the specifications. You never know what might happen.
3. Do your research
It is important to know what the range of salary the job role you are aiming for can offer so you can receive the same wage as your male colleagues. Sites such as LinkedIn or Glassdoor can help with this, though if you have unique expertise, experience or qualifications that could elevate your value to the company further, you need to factor that in too.
Beckie Sizer, HR Director at Reed.co.uk, said: “Having a good knowledge of the current market rate for your role will help you feel more confident when having what can be difficult conversations.”
Reed offers an Average Salary Checker on its mobile app displaying the average salary, alongside the ‘lowest’ and ‘highest’ salaries on any searched job.
4. Speak to your boss – confidently
If you think you’re being underpaid in your current job, set up a meeting with your manager to discuss your pay. Men will often have the confidence to this while women can feel nervous about broaching the subject. However, it is essential if you want to grow your salary.
Suter adds: “Like any negotiation, you want to go in armed with information and a solid argument. Research what equivalent roles are paying, have evidence of how you’re outperforming in your role or where you’ve taken on extra responsibility, and have a clear idea of what you want.”
Confidence is a big factor, so if you’re worried about being nervous make sure you do a run-through with a friend or family member first. Prepare answers to any questions you expect to get and go in full of self-belief.
5. Flexible working doesn’t mean you can’t ask for more money
Don’t let a flexible working arrangement get in the way of asking for more money, Suter says.
Many women who take time away from work to have children return to work part-time or with flexible working to help them work around childcare. Too often this means they don’t feel confident asking for a pay rise, for fear of being perceived as asking for too much.
6. Mention if you have offers – but don’t hold the employer to ransom
While it’s important to be confident, it is also key to not make employers feel angry.
Alice Haine of BestInvest said: “If you are receiving offers elsewhere, this is worth mentioning in the negotiation process but don’t hold your employer to ransom on this point, for example, ‘I’ll walk unless you pay XX’. This can backfire if the person making the offer feels backed into a corner. “
As long as you’re not asking for something unrealistic, don’t let it stop you asking for more money.
7. Be gracious, not aggressive
The right approach is also key to getting what you want.
Haine added: “Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy but be gracious in your approach rather than aggressive. Ask for more than you need and be prepared to negotiate – that’s all part of the game.
“You might not get the top figure you are after, but you might also get more than you hoped for.”