Salary Secrets:How A Negotiation CoachAsks For A Pay Raise
By Angela Neustatter
When women tell 37-year-old Wies Bratby, a willowy blonde lawyer, how difficult they find it to ask their boss for more pay, or that they accept gratefully what is offered, she gives them short shrift. Just as she scoffs at the idea that there should be positive discrimination in the workplace to make sure women get the same pay as men .
“Women need to learn their own value which may be higher than a male colleague’s, and learn how to negotiate accordingly. We’re not asking for special treatment.”
It’s no surprise to learn that Wies is Dutch, bursting with that nation’s characteristic chutzpah, and her mission, she declares, is to give women the negotiating skills to do as she has in her career and be paid, valued and respected in a way women too often are not. Success is also measured in people feeling they can achieve “a job of their dreams” even if it is not “super highly paid”, and see how they can use negotiating skills in their private life too.
So in 2017 she set up Women in Negotiation, spurred on by the World Economic Forum figure showing that globally women will have to wait 217 years for disparities in the pay and employment opportunities of men and women to end, WIN is an international online training course where: “Information is a vital part of it, but transformation lies at the heart of what is needed.”
There are lectures on techniques for how to prepare yourself practically and psychologically in order to get a meeting with your boss and get control.
“I understand how it feels when you summon courage and begin a conversation with the boss, to have her or him take that courage away with a few words.”
Wies is clear:
“Preparation when negotiating is everything.
Do quantitative market research on websites such as payscale.com, LinkedIn.com glassdoor.com Ask head-hunters and friends and colleagues. Get lots of data . Know what your bottom line is and your target – go higher than you think you should.”
Do this and you are, she says, ready to have a constructive discussion on pay – but one more thing: “Address emotional resistance to being a tough gal and develop a mindset where things like timorousness and not feeling entitled, are replaced with conviction in the value you can bring to your company.”
Marianne Yates (name changed), 46, a senior management leader with an insurance company, knows what Wies means. She signed up for her programme two years ago when life was at a very low ebb: newly divorced, broke and she had to close her business. “I came across a podcast Wies put on Facebook, Know Your Worth, in which she talked about how differently men and women negotiate and it convinced me I needed to learn from her.”
She tells of receiving skills training videos, weekly challenges and assignments, lectures with homework, how to present your case so that you will be heard. A key feature is the weekly on-screen meet-up where people on the programme from all over the world, with very different backgrounds, educations, upbringings, take part in an on-screen session in which they share and support each other with input from Wies.
She explains: “I saw clearly that while I am good at advocating for my staff and family members, I have always found it very hard to ask for what I want for myself.
I was in my insurance job and, with the thought of Wies’s approach in my head, I asked for a meeting with my boss and asked for a twenty-five percent increase – the firm’s maximum increase was set at 2.5 per cent. I explained to my boss what I brought to the company and how I could increase the workload if they were prepared to pay me to do so. “
It felt like a big risk and Marianne feared her boss’s outrage or that she would be humiliated. In fact: “My boss took me completely seriously and said he was one hundred percent behind me. I may not get the full amount but I am confident I will get well above the usual rise. That experience left me feeling the most powerful woman in the world.”
Wies first became interested in “the art of negotiation” when, aged 18, she read Getting to Yes “the greatest book ever about how to negotiate”. She went on to study law “because that is all about negotiation”. Yet, even when she was offered her first job with a prestigious law firm in the Netherlands, she did not do as she teaches. She was given the contract and the HR manager suggested she look through it that evening. Wies saw no reason to do so: she had been offered “a high number salary” – so signed immediately.
Not long after she discovered that a male colleague doing the same work was being paid more despite having the same qualifications.
Later, when she and her English husband moved to Hong Kong, she used a technique which is included in her WIN teaching: “I was interviewed for a job in a Human Resources company, but instead of waiting to see what the job was, I had drawn up a job description for a much more ambitious and creative role than was being advertised.
“I explained to them how much more I could bring to the company and negotiated my dream job with a 35 per cent salary increase. The company got value added from my work because I believed my worth was recognised. People when they feel undervalued so often perform at a mundane level.
False modesty is not Wies’s approach, and she talks about a strikingly high success rate in women getting what they want from the programme, relating with pleasure how one asked to meet with her boss .
“She went in saying here are are my thoughts and where I think we can get to with the company. Then she spelt the ideas out. When she had finished, she said to the boss ‘what are your thoughts? He was impressed enough to say what she had in mind made sense and they would do it.
She not only changed her salary but the course of the company.”