Demand What You Deserve, Girl!


This blog is a write up discussing “How to Negotiate a Salary, being a Woman”.

Working in an organization wearing a shirt and skirt or a saree is a whole lot different than working wearing a shirt, tie, and a huge ego. The constant remarks, being belittled, and unfair delegation of work and the ever-prevailing pay-gap. Being a woman at work demands you to tackle a lot more than work. But today the women have set their stilettoes firmly and made a mark on this corporate field dominated by the bearded ones.

‘We need to talk…’ This is the phrase a woman can use as her bramhastra. She can create a functional imbalance in the head of her counterpart and leave him trembling down to his feet. However, since the beginning of time, the workplace has been the man’s turf. Most women find it difficult to act upon their ‘need to talk’ and confront their bosses or interviewers about the pay they deserve. Let’s discuss how to negotiate a salary.

The gender pay gap is an issue that is eating up chunks from a woman’s deserved remuneration even today. However, the ladies today are well equipped with the courage and confidence to say a ‘No’ when they do not approve of something. The trend now is changing. Many female candidates would readily decline a job offer if they feel the company isn’t compensating enough in comparison to their counterparts. They won’t succumb to the HR’s (not so merciful) mercy.

Yes, it is a great improvement. At least from the days of feeling fortunate to receive (less than) whatever the recruiting manager felt was appropriate. However, I want to take it a notch up. Equipping the wiser gender with skills and courage to not only say a firm ‘No’ but leap forward to a ‘No, instead…’

Opportunity, Not a Choice

‘Just ₹45,000 a month as a Senior Analyst! I at least deserve a 60. Tina’s brother being an Associate Analyst earns more than I do. This is just not fair. I know my worth and this man sitting across the table does not respect it. Hence mister, sorry it’s a No!’

Negotiating to earn your worth is not that simple, we know. But getting the pay check that you well deserve had never ever been easy at all!

A choice. A question with either a Yes or a No as an answer. Many women tend to take a job offer as a choice. Offer a woman, who knows her value as an asset to the company, anything less than what she deserves and she would decline the offer and leave.

Well, it surely is great to stand up for yourself and never settle for less… I root for girl power too! But the real power lays not only in not settling for less but in convincing your recruiter for more. Always view an offer not as a choice or a matter of yes or no, but as an opportunity… an opportunity to negotiate.

Why start thinking about an answer when the recruiter puts a number on the table? Understand that he isn’t doing a favor by offering you a position. Recruitment is a symbiotic association that is supposed to benefit both, the company and the individual as an employee. The interests, terms, and expectations of both parties are considered and the conversation should lead to a mutually agreed decision.

So remember, an unsatisfactory first number quoted isn’t the end of the conversation, but the beginning of a negotiation. Not a ‘No’, but a ‘No, instead…’!

Hierarchy, not Patriarchy

Let’s, hands down, agree to the fact that ones with no testosterone but estrogen are the real fighters. If not all, in more than most cases, the girl has had to fight or at least struggle to garner equal, if not more, opportunity and recognition as the boy.

At home, at school, in a marriage, under their rule, in the train, in the rain, on the bus, amidst all the fuss, right from the most trivial chores to life-altering decisions, the girl has always had it more challenging, complex and crude compared to the boy.

Sadly that’s the patriarchal society we live in today where even nature puts her to a test of endurance every single month till the time she decides to smile and bear a pain allegedly equivalent to getting 20 bones fractured at a time and then the monthly subscription continues…

Alright, so the little feminist rant was just to establish that you women are fighters, and you need to ready your armors and put on your gloves because, in this corporate jungle, the situation ain’t any different. Although women are doing exceedingly well in every role in any field, despite putting in equal efforts and producing as good results as their male counterparts, the corporate evil of pay-gap still exists.

Yes, many organizations are coming up with policies against gender discrimination and ensuring equal pay, but most still function the traditional way where the man reigns and the man gains.

Being a woman, Knowledge and Courage are the two key things required to ensure that you are viewed at the same pedestal as your male colleagues and compensated according to one’s ability to perform and not of growing a beard and bumpy arms.

Knowledge as to what the role demands? Is your skillset aligned to the requirement? Who are the people in and out of your organization at the same or similar roles and position as of the one you wish to apply? What is their average range of remuneration?

Courage for first, you as a woman, believing that you are a genuine equal to your male counterparts and only then will you be able to convince your recruiter/interviewer of the same. It is a lop-sided battlefield out there, but you do what you have always done, shatter the shackles of societal norms and prevail.

Negotiation, not Bargain

Yes, I know you can buy ₹20 sabzi in 17, and also manage to get some kadi patta free! Aap hi ki savings se toh ghar aur gaadi aayi hai… but stating the obvious, the interview room is nothing like your local market place, and the panelists there are a tat bit more qualified than those sabzi wale bhaiyajis. Different setup, different players, thus different techniques of monetary optimization. Negotiation.

The fundamental difference between bargain and negotiation is that negotiation is backed by logic, reasoning, and evidence supporting your claim. While bargain is backed by, well, baseless relentless stubbornness … to put it mildly.

Market research. The most important prerequisite before you sit on the negotiation table is to have done your homework. Figure out industry standards of remuneration for the profile you have applied, the general pay scale for males and females in your industry holding similar positions. Although there shouldn’t be a need for it, but also prepare a pitch as to why are you equally and probably more competent as are your male colleagues.

Okay, Listen to this one…

All men want it, but most don’t get it. A few gathered courage and asked her for it, but she just couldn’t do it. It is difficult for a woman to do that, she’s not wired to do such an act…

So what is man’s longing unfulfilled desire from a woman? Guesses…

It is for a woman to Listen to him! Duh…the heading explicitly mentions it too!

Well, jokes apart. Women are good listeners they say. Why isn’t it said that they are even better talkative speakers! Women love talking. Observe a man talking to his mother/wife/daughter over the phone. His part of the conversation would be like ‘haanji mummji bilkul, haan, kha liya/ yes darling, yes, no no, yes got it, okay I’ll get it, oh yes I am listening/yes beta, no beta, not today, accha mummy ne bola, thik hai fir…’

To most women in his life, a man talks not in sentences, but words. Because the rest of the time she is speaking. Considering your interviewer is a male, listen to him, intently. Pamper his fragile male ego. Genuinely listening to what he has to say would probably make him put his evaluative guard down. It will ease him to have a more open conversation.

Conversing rather than just interviewing makes way for tons of different topics to surface that you can touch upon. It helps you understand his personality and interest areas and build upon the conversation. And well, probably you are taking home the paycheck with your desired amount… he had someone listen to him after ages!

Okay, time and again we have asked you to be patient because patience pays in corporate life. Here, quite literally – your patience can pay you your deserved and desired paycheck.

Opposite poles attract As ones repel

Most of the articles yet talked about scenarios where your counter negotiator is a male.  I have been stressing over girl power and on the fact that women are nailing it professionally in every field. So it is quite likely that your interviewer or boss may be a woman herself.

Ah, then the dynamics change. Many other important factors come into play like your competency, relevant experience, teamwork skills, leadership skills, the shade of your lipstick, the length of your hair, whether you are a coffee person or a tea person, which brand of shampoo did your grandmother use… well, that was just hyperbole. However, studies do show that women are much more interested in other women than other men. Notably in most cases, not with much of an amiable emotion.

Although I like to believe that in professional setups women clearly understand to keep their professional and personal views separate. But this still depends upon personality. So it is always safe to be cautious about the fact that you are a woman, trying to negotiate with another woman. Your boat could sail, also could miserably fail.

Negotiating with a woman is a lot different than with men. Do not beat around the bush, be straight. Stress upon and highlight your achievements and major talking points because even though your CV may have them, they could be lost in prejudices. Also, after all, she’s a woman too and probably she too comes for a place and has faced restraints and discrimination just like you. Try and build a rapport, as empathy from both ends is the winning formula here.

A woman always has options

Why is it that men try to pursue, please and retain his woman during the dating phase, and turn nonchalant once the rings are exchanged and the sindoor is put? Options! Men are competitive and they hate to lose something to someone. While dating her, a man knows that there are 5 other dudes in line. Waiting, hoping, praying for his relationship to falter. They might just treat her better, so he can’t risk acting up then.

But after the saat phere and the sindoor and the vows, the man has a reasonable surety that now he is in a monopolistic market and no competition exists. And with that assurance in mind, goes the display of affection, pampering, deep conversations down the drain!

The fact that a woman is discussing numbers with her recruiters, there is a reasonable chance that the recruiter is interested in having her on board. There comes a point in the negotiation when she thinks she has hit the ceiling. Here she could slyly bring up the topic of her having offers from (provided she does have) or that she has applied to other places too.

If the recruiter is convinced that he wants to get you into the system, he would readily loosen his pockets. He knows he could lose a worthy candidate. This trick, however, could potentially backfire too and so you must put it forth in a very calculated and conscious way.

The world is changing with nations standing up and giving a tough competition to the existing dominant nations to possibly soon overthrow their superpower status. I believe so is the case with the genders and the super gender too. Equipped with the necessary skill set, it is only a matter of courage and standing up for what you deserve to have a level playing field in this corporate jungle.

May the force be with you!



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