By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)
When was the last time you negotiated a raise? If it’s been a while (or perhaps, if your answer was ‘never’), chances are you could be making more. According to Matt Wallaert, lead scientist at GetRaised, “The research shows that women don’t ask for raises as often as men do, and when they do, they’re not as successful at it.”
Carol Frohlinger, co-author of Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success, agreed. She said, “The challenge for women is that not only are we reluctant to ask because of socialization, but the reality is that both men and women expect women to negotiate differently than men. So when we ask, we get push-back, or we heard about someone else who asked and it didn’t go well, so we don’t try.”
But that’s no reason to be discouraged – research and planning can help you ask for and get more.
GetRaised, for instance, shows women how much they could be making, based on its extensive database of market-based compensation research, and then provides women with a tool to help frame the negotiation conversation. According to Wallaert, tens of thousands women have now used GetRaised – and 75% of the women who have used it have gotten a raise. On average, the site’s users receive a raise of about $6,000.
This is about confidence. The success of GetRaised’s users shows women just aren’t asking. It’s time for women to start negotiating with the confidence that they can get more.
The Guys Behind GetRaised
“We hate that people consider this a women’s issue. Women’s issues get carved out and treated like their own special thing. This is a business issue. And it’s a family issue. It’s a societal issue,” said Wallaert. The team behind GetRaised believes passionately that women deserve to be paid fairly – which is why they run the website as a passion project (users pay $20 to use the service, and the money is returned if they don’t get a raise).
Dave Clarke, Communications Strategist for GetRaised, explained how the idea came to fruition. He and Wallaert were working with Avi Karnani at a personal finance website that was acquired by LendingTree a few years ago. In looking at their users’ data, they noticed that women were significantly better at saving than men. But they still didn’t have as much money. The glaring reality of the wage gap was sitting right in their spreadsheets.
The three, along with some other members of the team, banded together to form a new tech company, Churnless, of which GetRaised is a project.
Wallaert said that the main challenge they face is getting women to realize the extent of the problem in the first place. No one seems to think it’s that bad, or that it’s affecting them personally. So the first part of the GetRaised system is enable users to learn what they’re missing out on.
To figure out how much individuals who used GetRaised should be making, the team used compensation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, open job postings, and other sources and created a system that was self learning, and could adjust to the location of the user. Women can log on, and see the average salary range for their industry, position, and location.
Gender, Confidence, and Money
The second part of GetRaised provides a tool for women to ask for a raise – a letter detailing the value you bring to the company, and creates an outline for you to explain the reasons you feel you have earned a raise.
Frohlinger’s advice for negotiation is similar. “The best thing you can do is do your research. Pinpoint the range of salary compensation – and I encourage people to think more broadly than just compensation. And then know your benchmarks – your experience, the industry you’re in, your location. That way you feel comfortable that you’re not asking for something that isn’t reasonable.”
Wallaert, a behavioral scientist, said, “Let’s face it. There are differences in the ways genders communicate. Traditionally, business is predisposed to respond better to the way men communicate. Women are socialized to behave a certain way, and then penalized when they behave that way. It’s frustrating.”
The GetRaised letter enables women to change the tone, he explained – and makes the business case for the raise. “It becomes a framing point for the discussion. It explains your value to the company.”
And, according to Wallaert, it works. “We have a seventy-five percent success rate. It’s blown all of our predictions out of the water,” he said. “It’s a hard letter to say no to.”
In addition to serving as a tool to organize your request, the letter may actually be more of a confidence booster than anything – showing you the value you bring to the company just as much as it is designed to show your boss. Frohlinger said, “The bottom line is if you don’t think you’re worth it, no one else will. It’s all in your state of mind.”
Why You Need to Ask for More – Now
Because many companies are still reeling from the effects of the global recession, you may feel uncomfortable asking for more when money is tight.
Wallaert said, “We’ve certainly heard from our users that they haven’t had raises in a long time, and that their companies have asked them to tighten their belt.”
He continued, “Since we’re new, we can’t give you pre-recession figures, but I do think people are starting to be more concerned about getting their compensation adjusted to ‘make up’ for the delay.”
Frohlinger said now might actually be the perfect time to negotiate for more. “Because many companies are still resource constrained, you may be able to negotiate for more now.”
She explained, “The way things have been going, sometimes you could be doing the work of three people. It could be a real problem if you make a different decision. Obviously you still need to be reasonable, but your manager might be more inclined to listen to your request.”