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Close the Gender Pay Gap with These Negotiation Strategies

Today is #equalpayday2023. The upsetting truth is that women and other professionals from underrepresented backgrounds are often paid less than their Caucasian male counterparts. In the U.S., women make 84% of men's wages, which amounts to approximately $500 billion per year.

Furthermore, Black women make only 0.67 cents on the dollar and Latinas ranked the lowest in pay equality among other underrepresented groups, earning 46% less than their white male counterparts and 30% less than their white female counterparts. Research indicates that the pay gap starts at the beginning of their career, and in a lifetime of 40 years, women of color will make $900,000* less than their white male counterparts. The numbers are no better when it comes to the rate of promotion, which is 6% below their male counterparts.

It's shocking and beyond disappointing that in this day and age, many successful minority professionals miss out on being rewarded for their hard work. And although the system is undeniably broken, the sad truth is that when it comes to salary increases and promotions, too many employees from underrepresented groups leave money on the table due to not knowing how to negotiate or due to self-sabotage- aka fears, limiting beliefs and others inner-narratives that are not supportive.

Closing the GAP

If we are serious about closing the gap, we need to attack it from all fronts. Both from the legal standpoint- normalize salary transparency laws- as well we need to normalize and demystify salary/ promotion negotiation talk within our communities.

For me this fight is personal. As an immigrant and first gen corporate professional I failed to negotiate my first job offer believing that the other side had the best interest at heart. As a result I later learned that my male peer was making 10k more and I could never recover or reach parity within that company.

After that I decided to make it my mission to master negotiation tactics and use every tool in my toolbox for this never to happen to me again. Now as a coach, I make the point to pass on my lessons and learnings to my clients and community.

Let’s look at what you should do before applying, before your interview, and after you’ve received an offer.

Steps to Take Before Applying

Negotiation tactics need to start long before you even apply for a job. It’s easy to get swept up in the possibilities of a new opportunity and not even think about negotiation tactics at this stage. Yet these steps are so necessary.

#1 Own Your Worth

Reframe your mindset. Understandably, a myriad of fears start to manifest as you apply for jobs. However, having the right mindset in place is key. Internalize that you will bring value wherever you go and should be compensated appropriately. Examine your experience, knowledge, skills, and accreditations. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies and tend to underestimate all the tremendous value we bring to the table, aka ALL our experiences, diverse perspective, and cultural richness. Therefore we tend to play it safe or lowball ourselves therefore losing even before entering into a negotiation.

#2 Do Your Market Research

There is nothing more damaging than not doing your homework when it comes to salary negotiation. Knowledge is power, and doing market research can make or break your negotiation. There are many tools online that can help you understand the typical pay for the position. Use sites like, Glassdoor salary calculator, and Payscale to research the salary range for the role you’re negotiating for. When you do your research, make sure to include:

  • Geographic location

  • Years of industry experience

  • Education level

  • Career level (entry, mid, senior)

  • Licenses and certifications

  • Specialized skills

What I usually recommend is to include all relevant numbers in Excel and then come up with an average or midrange. I also like having at least five data sources to ensure that I look at the complete picture.

Steps to Take Before Negotiations

Once you’ve applied for a role, start preparing for negotiations early. Remember that employers are looking for a highly qualified candidate and a good fit for the team but also will be looking at saving money in their budgets, so they will aim to get a new hire below market. To that end, one thing is clear, you need to be prepared to negotiate.

#3 Think Beyond Salary

Now is an excellent time to understand what else the company offers to set your negotiation targets. Get a sense of their compensation packages, including 401k, insurance, education, and paid time off. As you start to weigh the pros and cons of the role, knowing the additional benefits will help you decide the lowest salary you are willing to accept.

#4 Know Your Walk Away Point

Before you enter a salary negotiation, you need to know what your “salary sweet spot” is and what is your “walk away point.” For the first, hopefully, you have the research handy and also have done some financial calculations at home. For the walkaway point, the main question that you need to answer is, what is the min that you will accept? Anything below that is your walk away point.

Here is something that I learned in all my years of experience both as a coach and a senior HR professional: no deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to salary, unless you are in dire need. What I find is that no matter the situation, slowly but surely, bitterness and unhappiness creep in, because there is nothing worse than feeling cheated out or devalued in terms of salary. Therefore again, if you are in a dire situation, take it with the full knowledge that this is temporary, but otherwise if you can, walk away and fast.

Negotiation Tactics After an Offer

When you receive an offer, the real work begins. You know their range, have done the market research and set your targets (when to accept/when to walk). It’s easy to feel the need to accept right away. Yet, it’s extremely important that you pause and ask for time to consider the offer.

#5 Hold Your Horses

Resist the urge to break any silence that follows the offer. Whether the offer is perfect or coming in too low, it is entirely acceptable to ask for at least a week to consider. You are their first choice for a reason, and it is rare for employers to have an issue with this request.

#6 Always Counter

It is normal to counter with 10-20%, depending on the research. Refer to your market research and your sweet spot number. When you’re ready to respond, send a message to the recruiter asking for a quick 15-minute phone call to discuss. An email with your requests will also work, but a call elicits more empathy, in my experience.

You can start by saying, “The base salary for the offer states $____, which is a good starting point. However, based on my research and the demonstrated experience I’ll be bringing to this role, I was looking more for $_____."

It’s super important that you do not over-explain yourself here. Listen carefully. Often the recruiter will say something like, “This is the budget for the role” or say that they have to run it by finance. Just say thank you and clarify when you can expect an answer.

Preparation is the golden key to success in any negotiation

We all know that negotiation during the hiring process is key to being paid what you deserve and closing the pay gap. However, any negotiator will tell you that there is only one way to win, and that is by prepping and rehearsing and preparing some more. Prepare for negotiations in the same way you do for an interview so you avoid these mistakes.

A great resource available for free for a short period of time, is my Salary and Promotion Negotiation Guide. This free resource will go deeper and provide you with real tips on how to successfully negotiate your next promotion or salary raise. If you would like to discuss further, book a time with me here.

*based on a median salary of 60K/yr and 3% annual base pay increase


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