Working Women: Know Your Worth & Ask For What You Want!

Like many women, I was surprised by the comments Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made in response to a question regarding women and career advancement at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing:

Photo via Official Leweb Photos

Maria Klawe: What do you advise women who are interested in advancing their careers but they’re not comfortable with putting themselves up for promotions or advanced opportunities?

Satya Nadella: “The thing that perhaps most  influenced me in terms of how you look at the journey or a career…There was this guy whose name is Mike Naples who was President of Microsoft when I joined, and he has this saying that all HR systems are long-term efficient, short-term inefficient.  And I thought that phrase just captured it. Which is…it’s not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go long.  And that I think might be one of the additional “superpowers,” that quite frankly, women who don’t ask for a raise have. Because that’s good karma.  It will come back.  Somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person I want to trust.  That’s the kind of person that I want to give more responsibility to.  And in the long-term efficiency, things catch up. And I wonder whether taking the long-term approach helps solve for “Am I getting paid right?” Am I getting rewarded right?” The reality is the best work is not followed with your best rewards.  Your best work then has impact, people recognize it, and then you get the rewards.  And you somehow have to think that through.”

Since speaking those words, Nadella said his answer to the question was just wrong. But I wondered, what did the women who work at Microsoft think when they heard their CEO make those comments? This served as a teachable moment for us women: we MUST speak up for what we want!

It’s no secret that in 2014, our society still struggles with gender equality. The workplace is one of the main culprits. Women still make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes and we don’t negotiate as often as men do when it comes to our salaries. In 2009, I graduated from business school. The recession also hit our economy at that time, so it was extremely hard to find a job. After working in retail for about 7 months post graduation, I was offered job. It wasn’t a retail job; instead a salary position at a company with benefits! Considering the state of the economy, my frustration with working retail after graduating with a MBA and my excitement to finally receive an offer, I took the job. No questions asked. Looking back, I wish I had negotiated my starting salary.  I don’t know if the company was willing to pay more money at the time because I never asked. Your starting salary sets the tone for how much you’ll make overtime at a company. You very well may be leaving money on the table.

Photo via Wikipedia

To all of my ladies out there, speak up and ask for what you want! Men don’t have a problem negotiating their salaries, therefore, neither should we! When it comes to a bonus or pay raise, I’m not saying walk into your boss’s office and start making demands left and right! You must be prepared! Give yourself a self assessment, highlighting your strengths and the value you bring to your company. Make note of the major projects and the tangible outcomes that have resulted from your work. It’s important that you take the time to highlight the work you do and bring it to your boss’s attention. It’s not called bragging; it’s called knowing your worth!

If you find yourself ready to negotiate your salary or maybe you freelance and need to negotiate how much you’ll be paid for your work, here are five tips provided by Inc. to that may help you along the way:

1. Preparation is keyBefore going in, do your research. Know your worth, and come in with a figure in writing.

2. Know your worth - Understand what you bring to the table. When negotiating at work, what projects have you worked on? What valuable contributions have you made? What are your strengths (and weaknesses)?

3. Know when to act-and when not to - It’s all about timing. And in some cases, silence is golden.

4. Avoid compromisingUse compromise as a last resort, not as an end goal.

5. Keep non-verbal cues in check - While words are important for any negotiation, don’t forget about extra-verbal communication too.

Read about each tip in more detail HERE. You can also Google “women pay raises negotiation tips” for more tips and strategies to consider along with things to avoid. It’s time we start taking ownership of what we want and doing what we can to make it happen!

Because when you’re good and you stand in that dopeness, folks will know you’re worth what you ask for even if they can’t afford it. Sometimes. Ideally. But even for those who want to price you down, be firm. Ask for what you want with a period, not a question mark. - From Luvvie’s post Dear Brands Who Wan to Pay me (and Other Bloggers) in “Exposure.” 

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