How to ask for, and get, a raise

South Africa’s constitution makes provision for equality in the Bill of Rights however, women are still being paid less than their male counterparts by a shocking 15% to 17%. This Women’s Month, 1st for Women Insurance urges South African women to recognise and attain their worth.

Robyn Farrell, Executive Head of 1st for Women Insurance says:  “Recently, a survey conducted by the Ellevate Network in the US revealed that if women want a raise, all they have to do is ask.  On average, 75% of the female respondents who asked for a raise received one. Unfortunately, many women aren’t asking for a raise. Only 37% of survey respondents reported asking for a raise in 2015.”

According to the survey, success in getting a raise is a matter of building up the courage to ask, and knowing how to negotiate to get what you want.  But not so fast.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg theorised that women don’t negotiate for themselves because others react badly to it. Sandberg says when men negotiate for themselves they are more liked and respected. But when women negotiate for themselves, the behaviour is not similarly rewarded. Instead, both men and women want to work with these women less often.

With this in mind, 1st for Women offers some tried and tested techniques from ‘Own your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman’ on how to own your ‘ask’:

The HOW of your ask:  The first step is making the decision and giving yourself permission to ask. The second step is crafting a way of asking that feels comfortable for you. Before you begin to build your ask, do the necessary research to ensure that what it is you are asking for is a realistic possibility.

Earn your ask: When asking for a promotion or increase, you must quantify the value you add and focus on your positive impact to the business. It is not enough to talk about how many hours you have worked, you are judged based on output and effectiveness. Another way to earn respect and trust is by taking on a new responsibility. This is what will elevate you above your colleagues, so make it your job to keep asking for more.

Practise your ask: Grab a good friend who values you and understands you, and go over the conversation a few times. A great way to prepare for the conversation is by saying that number out loud before you go in. You need to own it in your mind first. So prepare, practise and repeat.

Time your ask: According to clinical psychologist Dr Colinda Linde, there is research that suggests that the best times for an ask are specifically ‘Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 11 am. On Mondays, people are still easing into the week, and on Fridays they are moving towards party mode,’ she adds. And why 11 am? ‘It’s when you are almost at lunch,’ she says.

Be gracious:  There is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Sure, you have every right to ask, but make sure the manner in which you do it evokes an open response. Always maintain a professional demeanour, be polite and take care not to appear entitled.

Go ahead and ask:  When that time comes, build your case and approach your boss. Take the emotion out of it. Be logical. Be factual. Put together a list of the jobs that you’re now actively taking on, how many years you’ve been with the company, what the market related salary is and what your qualifications are. Show the financial impact of your work, the value you add to the bottom line and make your contribution to the company clear.

Know your plans B, C and D:  If your request for an increase is turned down, ask what exactly you can do to get the increase you want at a later time, and ask when that increase will be payable. Be specific. Be clear. If you get the increase, but it’s less than you requested, ask what you need to do to get the rest of your asking salary. Alternatively, if they cannot offer you the full amount immediately, request in writing that the matter is re-assessed in six months’ time.

“Today, it’s no longer about being better than men, or the differences that exist between the sexes, but rather about gender acceptance and greater independence on women’s own terms. It’s all about redefining women and their multiple, integrated roles and supporting them to be the best that they can be.  As soon as employers realise this, the sooner the glass ceiling will shatter and women will get paid their rightful due,” says Farrell.

Lori Milner, the co-author of Own your Space agrees:  “The future doesn’t belong to those who sit back, wishing and hoping that their lives will somehow become better without changing their behaviour. The future belongs to those people who step up. It belongs to those who ask. So go ahead. Ask for what you want.”