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Expert Salary Negotiation: 7 Tips for Women in Business + Leadership

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Women: it's time to take the reins and get what we deserve in the salary negotiation arena.

Being a female in leadership can be a challenging journey, (Ahem. Understatement). For about half of my career, I struggled with claiming my worth — regularly undercutting my rates or underestimating my expertise.

Sound Familiar?

With all due admiration, once we put on our big girl pants and secure the compensation we deserve, the (work) world will be a much brighter place.

Sharing 7 expert tips to help you ace your next salary negotiation:

1. Know your worth: Do your research, know the industry standard and the average salary for your position. Use websites like Glassdoor,, or Payscale to get an accurate idea. Additionally, consider factors such as your level of experience, education, skills, and market demand. This should come as no surprise, but a study by the National Women’s Law Center found that women are often underpaid compared to their male counterparts, so it's important to be informed and aware of the potential disparity. #knowyourworth

2. Start high: According to a study by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, starting the negotiation with a higher number sets the bar higher, making it easier to reach a middle ground. This is particularly important for women, as research shows that women are often expected to start negotiations with lower numbers. By starting high, you demonstrate your confidence and willingness to negotiate. #aimhigh

3. On that note: Be confident. As with most things in life, confidence is key in any negotiation. Know your strengths, accomplishments and the value you bring to the table. Take time to reflect on your achievements, and have a list of these ready to use as leverage in negotiations. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, when women are confident, they are more likely to receive offers that are closer to their target salary. #confidenceiskey

Pro tip: Practice the actual spoken negotiation out loud, in a mirror, until you can have the conversation with confidence, and without massive nerves.

4. Use your network: Reach out to other female leaders in your network and ask for advice. Share your stories and learn from each other. Having a supportive community can give you the confidence and resources you need to successfully negotiate. Moreover, consider joining professional organizations or networks specifically for women in leadership to expand your support system. #mentorshipmatters

5. Use facts and data: A study by Hannah Riley Bowles found that when negotiators use factual data, it increases their bargaining power and legitimacy. This can include market data, industry standards, and company policies. Having concrete data to back up your arguments can help you build a compelling case for your desired salary.

6. Be flexible (but not soft): Be open to other forms of compensation besides salary, such as flexible work hours, extra vacation time, training opportunities, or other benefits. Consider what is most important to you, and negotiate for those things in addition to or instead of salary.

7. The toughest one IMHO: Walk away. If the negotiations reach an impasse and the offer is not in line with your expectations, don’t be afraid to walk away. Remember, you are valuable and can always find another opportunity. Walking away shows that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you have options.

A study by McKinsey & Company found that women who walk away from negotiations are perceived as confident and competent, which can help to increase their future earning potential.

Reminder: salary negotiation is not a one-time event. It's an ongoing process that should be revisited regularly. As you advance in your career and acquire new skills and experience, be sure to revisit your salary and compensation packages to ensure that they are in line with your contributions. (Set a quarterly calendar reminder for yourself!)

You are a leader, it's time to get paid like one.


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