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Have you hit the “glass ceiling” so many times, it feels as if the top of your head is flat? Has your journey through the executive ranks seem to have stalled out? Are your dedication and hard work going unrewarded? Are you feeling underappreciated or misunderstood in the workplace? If so…welcome to The Club!

“This is THE place, where like-minded, executive-minded, forward-thinking women come to communicate—collaborate—and celebrate everything that it means to be a career-focused woman in a male-dominated work environment. This isn’t about ‘us vs. them.’ This is about us making a name for ourselves—taking a seat, and truly owning that seat, at the executive table—and doing so not as ‘clones’ of men, but as authentic, self-confident, self-empowered women.”

Amanda Blesing

2 x Author; Women’s C-Suite Mentor & Executive Coach; Founder: The She-Suite™ Club

Where empowered women empower other women. Because when women win, everyone wins.

How to Ask for a Pay Rise as a Senior Level Woman

Sometimes asking for a raise when you are a manager or leader of others can feel a bit selfish. You know you deserve one because of the impactful work you are doing, the extra hours you are putting in and the results you are delivering, but because you don’t want to come across as taking credit for others work, or even as greedy, it can cause you to hesitate and second guess yourself – which is counter to what you need to be successful in winning a raise. As a senior-level woman, asking for a pay rise requires a strategic and confident approach.  So here are some tips to keep you both confident and strategic as you negotiate a raise – because you deserve it.

  1. Quantify Your Value
    I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, learn to quantify your results, outputs, impact, difference made. And if you can’t quantify the outcome, quantify the scale or scope. Highlight your significant and various contributions to the company, such as leading successful projects, driving revenue growth, bottom line, or mentoring junior staff. Use concrete examples and metrics to demonstrate your impact on the organisation’s success overall.
  2. Research Market Rates
    Research salary data for senior-level positions in your industry and geographic location to understand the market rate for your role. This information will strengthen your argument, and confidence, when requesting a pay raise.
  3. Schedule a Meeting
    Request a meeting with your manager to discuss your compensation. Choose a time when they are not overwhelmed with other priorities and can give your request proper attention. Pre-Covid research tells us that Friday 10am is often a good time to ask for a raise because your manager may be more relaxed and receptive. However, with increased hybrid working arrangements you’ll be the best judge. Don’t forget too, that men tend to ask more frequently than women and often in casual settings such as over a beer after work, on the bike ride with the senior partner, in the Uber on the way back from a meeting, in the corridor or over a coffee catch up. Do set the meeting and be sure that your request is not a surprise for your boss because you’ve been having conversations about what your expectations are, and theirs of you are, over the past 3-6 months.
  4. Prepare a Strong Business Case for Your Raise
    Create a compelling case for why you deserve a pay rise. Outline your accomplishments, leadership skills, and any additional responsibilities you’ve taken on since your last salary review. Present this information confidently and professionally.  These items should not be a secret. In fact, you may even feel like a broken record. If your manager does not already know these results and arguments then you’ve not been doing your job right. And yet they still need repeating in the context of your business case.
  5. Emphasise Your Leadership Abilities and Traits
    Highlight your leadership qualities, such as strategic thinking, decision-making, and team management skills. Be sure to emphasise how your leadership has positively impacted the organisation and contributed to its overall success or progress.
  6. Address Pay Equity
    If you have evidence of gender pay gaps within your organisation or industry, consider addressing this issue tactfully. Frame your request in terms of fair compensation for your expertise, experience, and contributions, regardless of gender.
  7. Negotiate Holistically:
    Consider negotiating not only for a salary increase but also for additional benefits or perks that are important to you, such as flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, or equity compensation. While I’d never say not to ask for something as if you don’t ask you don’t get, it’s easier to negotiate once where you can trade things off against each other and make it a win win.
  8. Be Confident and Assertive yet Warm
    Approach the discussion with confidence and assertiveness and to mitigate any negative perceptions be sure to add warmth. I know, it sounds absolutely dreadful that I’m telling you to smile, but likability is an important trait in contemporary leadership, and it’s expected that women are warm, so if you’re not, you miss out and are potentially leaving money on the table. Use clear and persuasive language to convey your value and make a compelling case for a pay raise and don’t allow yourself to get upset if the answer is not immediately yes. Practice your pitch beforehand to ensure clarity and effectiveness. (Yes, I teach women to be more persuasive).
  9. Stay Professional and Positive
    Maintain a professional demeanour throughout the negotiation process, even if faced with resistance or pushback. Stay positive and focused on finding a mutually beneficial solution. As I mentioned, it’s the expectation that women are warm in addition to confident and assertive. It can balance out the directness. 
  10. Follow Up
    After the meeting, follow up with a thank-you email expressing appreciation for the opportunity to discuss your compensation. If your request is approved, ensure that the agreed-upon salary increase is reflected in writing. And if your manager doesn’t put it in writing soon enough, take responsibility for summarising the conversation back to them to check in next steps.

As Avril Henry says –“No-one cares as much about your career as you, so do something about it.”

Remember, advocating for fair compensation is essential at every stage of your career, especially as a senior-level woman. It’s not just good for you but sets the bar higher for all the women in the organisation too so it’s not selfish at all. By preparing a strong case for your value and contributions, presenting it clearly and persuasively, then following up professionally, you too can increase your chances of securing the pay rise you deserve.

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