Men Negotiate Their Salary 4x More Than Women — Here are 5 Ways You Can Level the Playing Field

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Kelli Thompson132
Women’s Leadership & Career Coach, Speaker
April 14, 2024 at 9:12PM UTC

“We found the perfect candidate!” I exclaimed.

As a human resources director, I was recruiting for a senior project management role for my organization. This particular candidate had the systems experience we desired and advanced client knowledge. Even better? She had positive energy, a quick learning style and excellent communication skills. She and I had candid conversations throughout the interviewingprocess about what she desired to make in the role. 

And so, we made our very best offer. 

She still negotiated with me on the final offer. I hung up the phone with her and noticed feelings of pride and awe that she was asking for her worth and was not going to settle. 

This candidate was a rare exception. In my five years of working in HR, most women accepted the first offer — while most men negotiated up. The statistics confirm this. 57% of women say they’ve never negotiated their salary and men initiate salary conversations four times more often than women. Even more shocking? 65% of the time, when applying to the same job, women will ask for a lower salary than men.

This is costly to a woman’s potential and her paycheck. Here is my tried and tested method to negotiate that salary up — so that we can do what we can on our side to close that salary gap. 

1. Prepare yourself for an ask.

Don’t rationalize a lower salary because you don’t meet 100% of the job requirements. According to several recruiters in my network, and in my own human resources experience, when women apply for a higher-level job, they tend to think that since they aren’t meeting 100% of the job criteria or experience, they deserve a lower salary. In reality, the salary should be based on fair market pay or the value they bring to the company. 

2. Claim your unique talents.

I can’t remember a single instance in my HR career where a man asked for a salary on the lower end of the salary range once it was provided. They went for the top, or higher, citing all of the experience and knowledge they’d bring to the role. 

Even if you are switching industries or careers, remember that your skills are transferable. Make a list of your top five career moments and list what skills and talents you used to achieve those. Then, communicate them in the interview to show your value.

3. Know your numbers.

Do your market research. Many states now post salary ranges in job descriptions, which can give you a sense of what the role can pay. Be sure to factor in the cost of living, if you’re required to be in a certain location. Other great places to check are online salary data resources like LinkedIn, PayScale, Glassdoor, and state BLS Wage systems. Be sure to compare the work you do and not just your title (in case the title doesn’t properly reflect your work). Once you have done the research, write down your non-negotiable salary, a better salary, and your dream salary. 

4. Practice your ask.

Feeling motivated by all of this information but still intimidated to ask? This is a common and normal feeling. After all, asking for money is outside many womens’ comfort zones. Write down your “ask” as a script to get it out of your head and onto paper. Practice this with a partner, friend, dog or even record yourself on your phone. This way, you can build your confidence muscles when the stakes are low so that your confidence is strengthened when the stakes are high. Practice asking for that best number salary you claimed earlier.

5. Make your ask.

Just don’t know what to say? Here’s a great script you can adapt to your own personality, goals and values:

Hi ________,

Thank you so much for your offer of ________ and generous benefits package.

In my research, I’ve found the current market rate is _________. In addition, I bring the following in experience:

Experience 1 that will generate XYZ results for you 

Experience 2 that will generate XYZ results for you 

Experience 3 that will generate XYZ results for you

I believe a fair salary for the role, experience and results is __________.

Can we discuss this a bit more? Thank you!

In the case of our talented senior product manager, I was able to go back to the hiring manager and gain an exception to pay $2000 over our top rate. We even adjusted her peers’ salaries to reflect the market shift. It was a win-win. We gained a wonderful employee who produced far more than $2000 worth of value to our company. 

In some cases, there were budget constraints that I couldn’t change. When this happened, I explained to the candidate that our top offer was the best we could do and it was not a reflection of their worth. Moral of the story? Usually, the worst someone can do when you ask for more, is say no.

Talking about money isn’t shameful; it’s essential for women to boost their confidence in promoting themselves and closing the money gaps. 

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Kelli Thompson is a women’s leadership coach and speaker who helps women advance to the rooms where decisions are made. She has coached and trained hundreds of women to trust themselves, lead with more confidence, and create a career they love. She is the founder of the Clarity & Confidence Women's Leadership Program, and a Stevie Award(r) winner for Women in Business—Coach of the Year. Her book, Closing The Confidence Gap: Boost Your Peace, Your Potential & Your Paycheck, will release in Fall of 2022. You can follow her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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