Women are costing themselves $1 million


Female professionals still aren’t leaning in.

Men are still more aggressive when it comes to negotiating salaries, a study released by recruiting software company Jobvite concluded. Some 56 percent of men feel comfortable negotiating salaries compared with only 38 percent of women. The result? It isn’t pretty. Female employees simply accept the first offer, leaving money on the table. Nearly one-third of men negotiated a salary at their most recent job compared with just over one-quarter of women.

By not negotiating a salary at the beginning of their career, women could lose between $1 million and $1.5 million over the course of their lives. Consider two fictional workers: Jim, who starts at $45,000 a year — and accepts a typical 1 percent pay raise each year — and Jane, who negotiates for a starting salary of $50,000 and negotiates a 4 percent raise every three years. After a 45-year career, the difference in their total lifetime earnings is $1,037,773, Salary.com found in a separate study. And that doesn’t take into account bonuses, promotions or stock options.

Not knowing how much to ask for is a major reason women avoid negotiating, said Susan Heathfield, a writer and human resources expert. She suggested doing research on job and salary information websites like PayScale and Glassdoor, which allow current and former employees of specific companies to anonymously submit information about their salary and benefits. Another level of valuable intel: Ask co-workers whether estimates on Glassdoor’s “Know Your Worth” for your job and company are (a) high, (b) reasonable or (c) low to get more specific feedback. That way, colleagues can weigh in on specific numbers without revealing their own salaries.

Women are also being encouraged to share this information among themselves. Asking how much co-workers earn and people at similar job levels can be empowering for some, prompting a discussion in recent years around the hashtag #talkpay.

Another reason women are more reluctant to negotiate: They are more used to getting push back when they ask for a raise. Some 87 percent of men were successful in negotiating higher pay whereas only 80 percent of women said the same, Jobvite found. Some 51 percent of men received an initial salary offer on par with what they expected compared with just 45 percent of women, the study concluded.

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