Detaching from the “I am negotiating for myself” scenario may be the only way women can garner their true worth in their careers. Bloomberg TV''s Women to Watch news show held an interview with four of the top women technical executives in Silicon Valley. Completely awed by their career achievements, it was encouraging to learn that though they work in an extensive male dominate field these executive women did not consider the tech industry to be an “old boys club”. However, when Willow Bay shot back with the question “In the technology field are women paid as much as men?” the positive outlook dimmed. All four women quietly admitted that women were not paid as much as men in their industry. Facebook Vice President Carolyn Everson went on to explain that any pay discrepancy she experienced was due to her unwillingness to negotiate for herself the way she would do for others
Most women feel what Ms. Everson so honestly portrayed. Protecting others is part of the feminine nature. Yet, when it is time to stand up for ourselves we tend to shirk our responsibility. Should women reckon with the fact that their lack of comparable pay and salary undercutting compared to men is mainly because they do not ask for what they are worth? With career books like “Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It” and "Push Back How Smart Women Stand Up -- For What They Want" on the best selling list, the consensus is women need support in this area. What doesn’t seemed to be addressed is that a woman’s bargaining power increases and in some cases bypasses a man’s when she is working on the behalf of a loved one. This increase in influence and confidence is part of the natural feminine instinct to care for others.
Whether getting them more playing time in the game or landing them the job at the corner ice cream shop, what mother has not on occasion wished she could step in and bargain the best outcome for their child’s life? Women are also renowned for becoming spontaneous articulate, go-getters when counseling distraught friends on what to do about an unfair job or relationship situation. Putting the Mama Bear protecting her cubs’ analogy in play for personal advancement and women detach from the habit of undercutting themselves.
How would women negotiate their situations if they conducted them as if they were for their daughters or best friends? Taking the outsider perspective opens up a list of empowering questions: What are the “must haves” to ensure the best options for the situation? What are the pros and cons when reviewing options like compromise versus moving on? The caring and assertive answers instinctively drawn for loved ones are the bargaining guidelines to use when setting up the parameters of personal and career well being? Women who take the time to acknowledge the instinctive slant of their nature will find that their need to protect others is also their primary negotiation tool.
The Bottom Line
Instead of going into a salary increase or career promotion discussion without a plan, take a step back and look at your circumstances from the view of a loving outsider. Remember your natural inclination to be caring is a life tool and as with all tools the effectiveness is in the way you use it.