Female workers should use their 'negotiator potential' to close the gender pay gap

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Female workers will struggle to close the current gender pay gap of 20.2% unless they become more proactive in negotiating salary increases with their bosses, claims an expert.

But the problem, according to Corinne Mills, managing director of consultancy Personal Career Management, is that too many women undervalue their contribution to the business and are reluctant to talk about how much they are worth in case of a negative reaction.

"In my experience, men simply ask for pay rises more often than women who hardly ever seem to at all and often seem embarrassed to talk about money," she said. "Some of the pay disparity between men and women may partly be explained by men asking for salary rises, while women don't."

She added that employers were unlikely to pay a higher salary unless they needed to, but men tended to simply grab the bull by the horns rather than agonise about whether to seize the initiative.

Moreover, female personnel tended to underuse their potential to be "excellent" negotiators, which results from an ability to employ both emotional intelligence and rational arguments to present their case. Instead they would often rather suffer inequality or unfairness than run the risk of rejection or of damaging their relationship with the boss.

But to get their fair dues, Mills recommends that women benchmark their salaries against market rates. They should then prepare rationale arguments as to why a given pay rise is justified, before finding a time when both the business is doing well and the boss is able to give them their full attention.

Possible arguments could include outlining new business that they have generated or money that they have helped to save, but the focus should be on demonstrating why they are an asset to the organisation.

It is also important for individual’s to be clear and realistic about how much of a salary increase they want and then to ask for more to give room for manoeuvre. If the boss says 'no', simply "ask when you can discuss this again and follow it up at a later date", Mills advised.

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