Stop Hesitating and Start Negotiating

By Hannah Sassi, GWWIB Executive Vice President

If you are familiar with basic business concepts or enjoy the occasional episode of Shark Tank, then you understand the importance of negotiation when it comes to business or career success. But have you thought about your own negotiation skills and experiences recently? And more importantly how is your inexperience or uncertainty regarding negotiation keeping you from achieving your goals?

On March 22 nd , GW Women in Business hosted a negotiation case workshop with Dr. Margaret Ormiston, a GWSB professor of Human Capital Management. Dr. Ormiston was kind enough to offer this workshop with the goal of educating female students about one of the main causes of gender-based inequality: salary negotiations.

The fact of the matter is that women are less likely to ask or negotiate when it comes to important career aspects such as salaries, promotions, benefits, and project opportunities. While the differences may be small in the beginning, they add up over the course of a woman’s career. It really is a disheartening reality, but it demonstrates how important of a topic this is as many of us prepare to begin our careers.

I felt very much empowered by the session with Dr. Ormiston. I understood the reality of gender and negotiations, but also knew that I had the ability to encourage myself and other women to counter this problem. The first step is having the confidence in yourself to know when you deserve more and then to inspire yourself to ask and negotiate until you get it.

There are also several actions, that Dr. Ormiston shared, which will help you succeed in using negotiate to achieve your goals:

  • Adopt the mindset that you can always learn and develop your skills – because it’s true!  
  • Pay attention to company fit (are you valued?) and choose role models for inspiration
  • Reduce ambiguity of the negotiation by doing your homework – whether it is benefits, salary, etc. 
  • Establish a next best option (your “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” –BATNA) as this helps to increase your bargaining power and confidence
  • Identify gender triggers such as competitive situations or ambiguity and learn how to lessen these “stereotype” threats
  • Consider who you are negotiating for (e.g. your children, significant other, or women everywhere) which helps to increase purpose and accountability
  • Learn how to negotiate not just for salary, but also for career opportunities and other things that you value personally

I hope these tips are helpful and that you share these with other women, because it is so important that we empower each other to help lessen gender-based issues in business, such as wage inequality. Thanks for reading!