Equal Pay Negotiations LLC

Achieving Equal Pay by Consulting for Employers, Employees, and Policy Makers

Negotiating The Nonnegotiable Salary and Benefit Packages

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Most women do not negotiate their salary or benefits packages at work.  A recent study shows women negotiate more when the rules to negotiate the specific situation are more concrete.  The study included “salary negotiable” in job advertisements.

Usually this direct invitation is replacement with discouragement by employers.  This discouragement is often considered as a “take it or leave it” situation.   Even if the actual words “This offer is nonnegotiable” are said it does not mean an absolute.  It truly is part of the gamesmanship of negotiation.

In an episode of VEEP the vice president played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss was negotiating a debt reduction agreement with the House Majority Leader.   The agreement needed to be done by midnight or all kinds of fiscal fallout would happen.  The Veep mentioned she was hosting her daughter’s birthday party that evening.  The Majority Leader saw this as an opportunity to create even more time pressure for an agreement and faked an allergic reaction to flowers.  She needed to get out of the room and recoup before negotiations could begin again at the birthday party that night.   That is gamesmanship.

Gaming is how most salary and benefit package offers – for a new job, a promotion, a raise – start.  The offer is usually made in a manner to minimize the likelihood of bargaining.  When we women hear the gaming opening we believe that it is a “take it or leave it” situation.   This can partially explain why more men than women barter their employment package.   Here are a few examples of the typical way a manager couches pay with a gaming opening compared to how we would like to hear managers discuss pay with us.

The Gaming Opening The Desired Invitation to Negotiate
You did an amazing job this year.  I really wish I could reward you with more.  I went to the mat and got you the most allowed.  Here’s a 2% raise.  Job well done. You did an amazing job this year.  Our typical raise is 2% but I might be able to get you more.
Congratulations!  I’m happy to say that you are now a director.  You’ve worked hard and the results in your department are impressive.  I know you will easily transition from manager to director but let me know when I can help with the transition.  With the promotion is a raise.  It’s a corporate standard raise of 4% when moving from manager to director.  Congratulations! Congratulations!  I’m happy to say that you are now a director.  You’ve worked hard and the results in your department are impressive.  I know you will easily transition from manager to director but let me know when I can help with the transition.  With the promotion is a raise.   How’s 4% sound?
I am very excited to say that we would like to offer you the job.  You really are a great fit for the job and for the company culturally.  I don’t believe in playing the negotiation game so I start with the best offer possible.  It’s $50,000 and a standard benefits package.  Can you start in two weeks? I am very excited to say that we would like to offer you the job.  You really are a great fit for the job and for the company culturally.  I can offer you $50,000 and a standard benefits package.  Does that meet your needs?
You believe you are underpaid?  We can’t afford to pay you more. You believe you are underpaid?  So do I!  Let’s get you some more.  How much do you want?
You want to telecommute two days a week?  We have standards for everyone.  I can’t treat you differently from the other employees. You want to telecommute two days a week?  We don’t offer this to everyone but you are extra special.  What days are you thinking?
You would like a salary adjustment?  You already are the highest paid in the department. You would like a salary adjustment?  How much more should we pay you?
You want a flex schedule?  We should have talked about that during the interview process.  We don’t offer them as a benefit. You want a flex schedule?  As long as you get your job done we are flexible.

It would be great if the business world could change and make negotiation more concrete.  At least we women would feel more comfortable.  Until then,  do you think you can ignore the gamesmanship and pretend you heard the invitation to negotiate?  Try this once and you will have more opportunity to earn more and barter for work benefits that fit your needs better.

© 2013 Katie Donovan

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