By Sylvia Pennington.
Sylvia is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business and personal finance.
Are you going for a new role, or preparing for a salary review, and planning to haggle hard over the package you’ll accept? If you’re a woman who answered yes, then congratulations, you’re in a minority.
It seems most of us are all too ready to nod along and take what’s offered, regardless of whether we think it reflects our worth, or the value we believe we can add to the organisation looking to secure our services.
A global survey by salary comparison site Glassdoor in 2016 found 68% of women didn’t negotiate their salary, versus 52% of men.1
Making like Oliver Twist – the Dickensian orphan who famously asked for more gruel – is clearly something many women are loath to do, myself included.
As a freelance worker, I don’t especially enjoy negotiating the remuneration for assignments I take on but I try to do so in a business-like way, based on market rates and what I feel is fair for the work involved.
That’s meant saying ‘no thanks’ to the occasional low offer but I’ve learnt there are few experiences more disgruntling than working on a task, or in a job, where you feel your services are being undervalued or underpaid.
It can be every bit as demoralising as asking and not receiving, particularly if you know of others in your organisation, or doing similar work, who are more confident about going in to bat for themselves and who’ve been rewarded financially for their assertiveness.
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I asked executive coach and founder of the leadership development consultancy Stephenson Mansell Group Virginia Mansell for some tips on how women can drop the diffidence and get better at negotiating salaries that reflect their market worth.
"Bringing this up can create aggravation and may get the conversation off to a negative start,” she says.
“It’s much better to play to your strengths and focus the discussions on what you bring in terms of individual, team and organisational value.”
According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), women between 25 and 35 have been the most active so far this financial year in finding their lost and unclaimed super, accounting for more than one in five of all Australians who took action to manage their super. Overall, almost 190,000 people have found, transferred and consolidated more than $1.8 billion between 1 July 2017 and 31 January 2018.3
Negotiating a salary that reflects your true value won’t just boost your bank balance in the here and now; you’ll be doing your future self a financial favour too. Superannuation is paid as a percentage of your earnings – currently at least 9.50% of base salary for eligible employees – and securing a better deal on pay can make a big difference to your retirement savings balance, when your time to down tools eventually rolls around.
Personal view disclaimer
The views of the author are not necessarily the views of the QSuper Board and QInvest Limited Board. We’ve put this information together as general information only and you should get professional advice before relying on this information.
1. Glassdoor Data on the Gender Pay Gap and Salary Transparency. Accessed 14/2/18.
2. Workplace Gender Equality Agency: What is the gender pay gap? Accessed 14/2/18
3. ATO media release 9/3/18: Young women leading the way in finding lost super. Accessed 14/3/18
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