Conversations about money can be tricky, especially when it comes to salary negotiations. These convos are arguably some of the most anxiety-inducing parts of life, right along with public speaking and dealing with your cable company. So, what does one say when asking for a raise, especially when you're a woman?
According to Harvard's recent study, 14 percent of women and 14 percent of men said they acted less assertively in salary negotiations for "fear of upsetting the relationship with their boss or colleagues." That said, women who asked obtained a raise 15 percent of the time, while men obtained a pay increase 20 percent of the time. Don't lose heart, though. Productive and fruitful salary discussions are not only possible, but can be surprisingly pleasant if you're prepared and confident — just ask these successful women founders and CEOs in fields ranging from haircare to travel goods.
From negotiation timelines to the best salary resources, these bosses give some sage advice on how to make a case for what you deserve. And considering the extent of success in their own lives, it’s safe to say these tips are worth their weight in gold. Get ready to break out that notepad —because investing in yourself should be a regular practice.
Jen Atkin, Founder of OUAI
"First and foremost, before asking for any raise, make sure you’re meeting and exceeding the expectations with your job. Be humble, work hard, and don’t try to compete with anyone else. There’s enough to go around for all of us to be successful. Don't expect success overnight. It takes years of hard work to start to build a long-standing career. Keeping all these things in mind, you can build a case for your manager and/or boss as to why you deserve a raise, knowing the value of your time and hard work."
Shelley Sullivan, Founder and CEO of ModelCo
"A long-standing employee once outlined their current role and responsibilities. They shared their goals, additional responsibilities they had voluntarily taken on outside of their ‘scope of work,’ and asked for feedback around their performance. All this validated the answer to their question: 'Will you consider a pay-raise, based off my performance?' That got a huge 'yes' from me. I will always make sure any raise is linked back to having key performance indicators and that these are challenging enough for the employee's personal career growth, but still achievable and beneficial for the business."
Jen Rubio, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer, Away
"Always do your research before asking for raise, whether that’s by having frank conversations with your peers in the industry, or by leveraging resources like Ladies Get Paid and Girlboss to read up on tips for navigating the process. Tapping into these communities will give you an added boost of confidence, and you might even meet a new friend or future business partner."
Bianca Gates, CEO & Co-Founder, Birdies And Marisa Sharkey, President, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder, Birdies
Gates: "I love [the topic of salary] because it’s something every employee thinks about, but doesn't quite know how to approach. In my experience, the best conversations regarding a raise happened after I had done my homework on why I should be making more, as well as understanding what 'more' is and knowing the right time to ask."
"Simply asking for more money because you think you deserve it is not enough. A few things help prepare for this conversation: How much less (or more) are you making than your peers doing the same work? How have you exceeded the expectations given to you? Have you done this consistently? How much more do you think you deserve and what is the logic behind this number? Do your research, put together a compelling reason, and you’ll find that not only will you get that raise, but you’ll impress your boss in doing so. Double win!"
Sharkey: "While asking for a raise always feels like a difficult conversation, I've seen a number of employees do it very effectively. One of the most important factors is timing. I've found that the strongest employees start talking about a raise far in advance. They lay out their performance highlights and often suggest the milestones they want to hit and a timeline that makes sense."
"Establishing those mutual expectations upfront is very helpful. There are no surprises for the employer or the employee and everyone is aligned on what needs to happen, reducing the stress and anxiety that often goes into these types of conversations."
Steph Korey, Co-founder and CEO, Away
"When it comes to salary negotiations, I firmly believe that women (and everyone, for that matter) should take the emotion out of the ask. You should never feel bad about asking for something you’ve proven you deserve, so if you have the results to show your impact and output, go for it."
"Start by writing down the the reasons you’re asking. It will give you a clear picture on what you’ve delivered for the business and give you the confidence to articulate it. Sometimes seeing it on paper will offer the necessary perspective so that you don’t underestimate your abilities or the value you bring to the table."